News In Brief
The Pennsylvania House education committee is weighing a Senate-approved bill that would make the state the nation's first to bar high-school athletes from using anabolic steroids.
The measure, which was approved by the upper chamber in April, also would prohibit physicians from dispensing the muscle-building drugs except when medically necessary.
The bill would not require school districts to set up urinalysis programs to screen students for the substances. Districts already have that option under existing laws.
Under the bill, athletes caught abusing steroids would be suspended from participating in their sport for the remainder of the season. Second offenders would be barred from participating in the current and the next season, and third offenders would be suspended from high-school sports permanently.
"We in the legislature need to make a public statement to the effect that we do not condone the use of steroids by high-school athletes," said Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf, the Montgomery County Republican who sponsored the measure.
He said he offered the bill after reading reports of steroid abuse by high-school athletes and hearing allegations that some coaches condone the practice.
The Pennsylvania School Boards Association backs the bill's "basic thrust," but would prefer that districts be allowed to set their own penalties, said Thomas J. Gentzel, the group's director of governmental relations.
Gov. Richard F. Celeste is expected this week to sign a bill giving Ohio school districts the option to seek voter approval for local income taxes.
The bill, which had bipartisan support, was designed to provide districts with an alternative to property taxes as a local revenue source. An unprecedented number of districts have sought emergency state loans over the past year, following voter rejection of property-tax levies.
Districts would be permitted toel15lset their own income-tax rates under the bill, which would take effect in November. The new taxes would have to be reapproved by voters every five years.
Governor Celeste has noted that despite the new local income taxes, the state still will have raise its own taxes in order to finance proposed school reforms.
The Illinois Senate is considering a House-approved bill to raise income taxes for two years and split the proceeds between education and local government.
The measure calls for an 18.6 percent increase in the state's income- tax rates, which currently rank among the lowest in the nation. It passed in the House last month just six hours after it was proposed by House Speaker Michael Madigan, a staunch opponent of several previous tax-increase proposals.
The take hike would generate more than $700 million next year and $800 million in the following year, Democratic backers estimate.
Republican lawmakers, who are in the minority in both houses of the legislature but who enjoy the support of Gov. James R. Thompson, also a Republican, are pressing for the proposed increase to be doubled and made permanent.
The Louisiana Senate has unanimously approved a measure that would provide high-achieving disadvantaged students with free tuition to state colleges and universities.
Senator John Hainkel, the bill's sponsor, said he hoped it would "motivate" students to do better in school and thereby reduce colleges' remedial-education costs.
Eligibility for the aid would be restricted to students from families with annual incomes below $30,000. Students also would have to achieve a specified score on the American College Testing program and would have to complete a core curriculum.
Senator Hainkel estimated that up to 70 percent of Louisiana's 18,000 college freshmen each year would be eligible.
The measure, which would cost about $4.6 million in its first year, has been referred to the House appropriations committee.