STATE LEGISLATIVE AND REGULATORY ACTIVITY UPDATE – January 22, 2013
Much anticipated state authorization legislation was introduced in Hawaii to establish licensure requirements conforming to program integrity rules released by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010. S.B. 46, introduced by the chairs of the Education, Higher Education, and Commerce and Consumer Protection Committees, establishes a five member postsecondary education commission within the Department of Commerce andConsumer Affairs and creates a "framework for authorizing privatepost-secondary educational institutions in the State." Notable provisions ofthe bill include:
·Authorizing the Commission to establish procedures for the authorization, reauthorization, and the revocation of the authorizationof degree-granting private institutions;
·Authorizing the Commission to establish policies requiring institutions to submit data related to student enrollment and degreecompletion;
·An accreditation requirement;
·A requirement for a surety bond if the institution fails to meet specified "financial integrity" provisions, including five years of continuous authorization by the Commission;
·Authorizing the investigation of institutions believed to be in violation of the Act.The bill would allow the Commission to "subpoena any persons,books, records, or documents pertaining to the investigation;" and
·Establishing an appropriation that would provide for four permanent positions at the Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs toimplement provisions of the Act.
In Hawaii, bills are typically approved by multiple committees of referral before being considered on the floor. Accordingly, S.B. 46 has been referred to the Senate Commerce and Consumer Protection, Higher Education, and Ways and Means Committees. About 5,500 miles away in Annapolis, the Maryland Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to consider legislation on January 29th that would regulate internet sales of "consumer goods or services" over $500. Courses of instruction or training, regardless of the purpose for which they are taken, are included in the definition of a consumer service. The measure would require the "seller" to provide a receipt or copy of any contract that pertains to the Internet sale and contains the date of the transaction and the name and address of the seller; and a statement that the buyer may cancel the Internet sale until midnight of the third business day after the date of the Internet sale as well as a description of how the buyer may cancel the sale.
Finally, legislation was introduced in Rhode Island to require private postsecondary institutions to provide a minimum of 30 days of written notice before closing. In the event that the institution fails to do so, the measure proposes to hold thegeneral officers and the board of directors "personally liable for the refundof deposits and pre-paid tuition, unless such persons can show that the schoolc losing or failure to provide notice was made without the knowledge and consent of said general officer or director."