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Status of Federal Legislation

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Budget Resolutions, Fiscal 1997

H Con Res 178

Provisions: Bills are spending blueprints with estimates for large categories of programs to guide appropriations for fiscal 1997, which begins Oct. 1, as well as long-term budget plans. House bill would provide $46.9 billion in 1997 for the category that includes education programs; it calls for eliminating several of them. Senate bill would provide $52.6 billion. 1996 budget resolution offered $48.5 billion. (See Education Week, May 29, 1996.)

Status: House approved its budget resolution May 16. Senate approved its version on May 23.

Next: House-Senate conference to reconcile differences in the two versions of the bill has not yet been scheduled.

Education Appropriations, Fiscal 1997

Provisions: House Appropriations Committee has divided fiscal 1997 funds among its subcommittees. The funding plan, which could change depending on the outcome of budget negotiations, would give the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education $64.8 billion to divide among programs in its jurisdiction. That is $1.8 billion more than was appropriated last year, but does not account for $1.3 billion in fiscal 1996 Title I spending that will be "counted" toward 1997 limits.(See Education Week, May 29, 1996.)

Status: House Appropriations Committee approved subcommittee allocations on May 23.

Next: House-Senate conference on 1997 budget resolutions; subcommittee allocations by the Senate Appropriations Committee; committee action on appropriations bills in both chambers.

Health Care

HR 3103

Provisions: Both bills would require insurers to sell health coverage to most individuals, and limit the period for which an insurer can refuse coverage for pre-existing conditions. House bill also includes controversial provisions that would allow individuals to pay medical costs from medical savings accounts, and limit awards in medical-malpractice cases.

Status: House passed HR 3103 on March 28. Senate approved its version of the bill on April 23.

Next: House-Senate conference to reconcile differences in the two versions of the bill has not yet been scheduled.


HR 2202

Provisions: Bills include many measures that aim to curb illegal immigration and restrict legal and illegal immigrants' eligibility for some public benefits. House bill would allow states to deny undocumented children free access to K-12 public education. Most proposed restrictions on legal immigration were stripped from the bills. (See Education Week, Sept. 20, 1995, and March 27, 1996.)

Status: House passed HR 2202 on March 21. Senate approved its version of the bill on May 2.

Next: House-Senate conference to reconcile differences in the two versions of the bill has not yet been scheduled.

Impact Aid

HR 3269, S 1509

Provisions: Bills would make technical changes to the impact-aid program. Both would add protections for districts affected by changes in methods for assessing federal property. House bill also contains provisions related to the treatment of school districts that consolidate, the treatment of Hawaii's unique statewide district under the law, and military-base housing. Senate bill would also change allocations for some heavily impacted districts.

Status: House approved HR 3269 on May 7. Senate passed S 1509 on Dec. 22.

Next: House-Senate conference to reconcile differences in the two versions of the bill has not yet been scheduled.

Minimum Wage

HR 3448

Provisions: Business-tax package includes provision, sought by Democrats, that would raise the hourly minimum wage from $4.25 to $5.15 over two years. It would exempt workers under 20 who work for less than 90 days. (See story, page 23.)

Status: House passed HR 1227, a minimum-wage bill later folded into HR 3448, on May 23.

Next: Senate is expected to move the House bill directly to the floor.

Official English

HR 739, HR 123, HR 1005, HR 345, HR 739, S 356

Provisions: Bills would declare English the official language of the United States. HR 739 and HR 1005 would explicitly bar public funding of bilingual education; the other bills are silent on the issue, but bilingual-education advocates fear any "official English" law could have that effect. (See Education Week, March 20, 1996.)

Status:Senate Governmental Affairs Committee postponed action on S 356 that was scheduled for May 16.

Next: Committee action in the House and Senate.

Parental Rights

HR 1271, HR 1946, S 984 HR 3324

Provisions: HR 1271 would require federal agencies to obtain parental approval before administering certain surveys to students. HR 1946 and S 984 would bar government and school officials from interfering with "the upbringing of a child" unless a "compelling governmental interest" was involved. (See story, page 21, and Education Week, May 24, 1995.)

Status: HR 1271 was approved by the House on April 4, 1995. Last fall, hearings were held in the House on HR 1946 and in the Senate on the broader topic of parental rights.

Next: Senate committee or floor action.

Religious Liberty

HJ Res 121, HJ Res 127

Provisions: Both bills would amend the U.S. Constitution in an effort to provide greater protection for religious expression. HJ Res 127 would specifically protect student-sponsored prayer in public schools. (See Education Week, Nov. 29, 1995.)

Status: HJ Res 121 was introduced Nov. 15 and HJ Res 127 on Nov. 28.

Next: House Judiciary Committee plans to debate the proposed amendments later in the year.

School Meals

HR 2066

Provisions: Bill would give schools more flexibility to meet new nutritional guidelines for federally subsidized school meals, and insure that schools would not have to use computerized nutrient analysis. (See Education Week, May 22, 1996.)

Status: Bill passed in the House on May 14 and the Senate on May 16.

Next: President Clinton is expected to sign the measure.

Special Education

S 1578, HR 3268

Provisions: Both bills would: make it easier for school officials to reassign or expel disruptive disabled students; encourage mediation in disputes between schools and parents; require schools to set high standards for disabled students; and consolidate some programs. (See story, page 21, and Education Week, May 22, 1996.)

Status:Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee unanimously approved S 1578 on March 21. House Economic and Educational Opportunities Committee passed HR 3268 last week.

Next: Floor action in the House and Senate.

Vocational Education

HR 1617, S 143

Provisions: House bill would replace more than 100 vocational-education, adult-education, and job-training programs with block grants for youth programs, adult literacy, and adult job training. Senate bill would create a single block grant, replacing about 90 programs. (See Education Week, May 29 and April 17, 1996.)

Status: House bill passed Sept. 19. Senate bill passed Oct. 11.

Next: House-Senate conference began May 21.

Welfare Reform

HR 3507, S 1795

Provisions: Like earlier GOP plans, which President Clinton vetoed, bills would end guaranteed coverage and turn welfare and Medicaid funding over to the states in block grants. Congressional leaders dropped provisions that would have barred states from offering benefits for children born to welfare recipients and provisions that would have cut benefits to disabled children receiving Supplemental Security Income payments. New bill also calls for more child-care funding. Bills incorporate many suggestions from the National Governors' Association. (See Education Week, May 15, 1996.)

Status:Bills were introduced on May 22.

Next: President Clinton has criticized the Medicaid provisions of the bills. Republican leaders are debating whether to try to draft a bill that the president will sign, or try to use a presidential veto as a campaign issue in the November Elections.

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