Legislation Pending in Conference Committee

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The following legislation is pending in Conference Committee.

Appropriation Bills:

House/Senate Conference Committees have been at work since mid-May trying to reconcile differences in the House and Senate-passed versions of the four appropriations bills listed above. On Thursday, June 8, the conference committees came to an agreement on the budget. At press time, the House Ways and Means Committee was in the midst of preparing a report summarizing budget highlights; this report will be distributed to House members upon returning for the statewide session beginning Monday, June 12.

Restructuring of Commission on Higher Education (S. 365, Sen. Setzler). Currently, South Carolina's Commission on Higher Education is governed by an 18-member commission, with the governor appointing 2 members from each of the state's 6 congressional districts (upon recommendation of each district's legislative delegation) and also appointing (with the advice and consent of the Senate) 6 "at-large" members. If S. 365 is adopted, however, the commission's size would be reduced to 11 members, all of whom would be appointed by the governor, with 6 of these members representing congressional districts (1 from each district); 3 representing the state's public colleges and universities; 1 representing independent colleges and universities; and 1 member being "at-large" and serving as chairman. These 11 members would be required to meet various qualifications, as follows:

S. 365 also specifies that the commission's purposes are to provide overview and oversight of services provide by public higher education institutions; to serve as an advisor to the governor and the General Assembly, and to advocate the interests of students attending institutions of higher learning. The bill also requires the commission to make recommendations to the governor, instead of to the Budget and Control Board concerning policies, financing, etc. of state-supported institutions of higher learning, and allows the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee to refer to the commission for study requests of institutions of higher learning for new or additional appropriations for operating or other purposes and for establishment of new or expanded programs. Additionally, the executive director must be appointed by the commission and must manage and carry out the commission's duties, with the director not subject to the State Employee Grievance Procedure Act but subject to dismissal without cause. The commission's professional staff must be established by the executive director, instead of by the commission. Finally, the bill provides that terms of current members of the commission expire next month (July 1), at which time new members would be selected in accordance with these provisions.

Status: Approved by the Senate on March 8, 1995; approved with amendments by the House on May 10; conference committee appointed on May 24 to work out differences between the two versions. (NOTE: Toward the end of the regular session, the House twice rejected a motion to give the higher education conference committee free conference powers, with several persons opposed to free conference for S. 365 expressing concern that the bill, as proposed by the Senate, would leave House members with no input as to selection of commission members.)