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Compared to all the hoopla about education-reform victories over the past few years in Michigan, a recent $70 million win in federal court for the state's prepaid-college-tuition plan went practically unnoticed.

The Internal Revenue Service is not due federal income taxes on the profits of the tuition fund, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit held in ruling for the state this month.

The victory drew little attention because the Michigan Education Trust, in which more than $50 million was invested to prepay tuition for 55,000 children to attend Michigan colleges, is no longer in business.

The program, launched by former Gov. James Blanchard, a Democrat, sought to encourage college-minded thinking by middle-class and low-income residents. Gov. John Engler, a Republican, quickly halted the program when he took office in 1991, and it has not received any new enrollments since.

Critics opposed the program because it funneled money into a state-run trust rather than savings accounts at banks or savings funds run by insurance companies.

The I.R.S. argued that the fund owed taxes on its investment profits, but lost that argument both times it went to federal court. No appeals are planned.

The Alabama legislature's House Ways and Means Committee is taking its act on the road.

The committee members will uproot themselves from Montgomery for a series of site visits across the state, beginning this week. On May 24, panel members are expected in Tuscaloosa, where they are to tour a state agency for the mentally retarded, a hospital's adolescent-care center, an interview facility for child-abuse victims, and a children's museum.

Later this spring, they are scheduled to visit a juvenile court and disciplinary schools, the Associated Press reported.

The road show--paid for by the committee members--comes at the behest of their new chairman, Rep. William P. Fuller Jr., a Democrat who is apparently a peripatetic sort. When he was the chairman of the military-affairs committee, Mr. Fuller held hearings around the state during Operation Desert Storm.

"I just think it gives the committee a new level of sensitivity for some of the programs we fund," the a.p. quoted Mr. Fuller as saying.

--Lonnie Harp & Millicent Lawton

Vol. 14, Issue 35

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