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Washington Update: Higher Education Act Reauthorization; Patent Litigation Legislation; Senate Finance Committee Approves Tax Extenders Bill

An update on the status of the Higher Education Act reauthorization, patent litigation legislation, and the Senate Finance Committee’s approval of a tax extenders bill.

Higher Education Act Reauthorization

The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee continues to hold hearings on the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HEA), most recently on “Exploring Barriers and Opportunities Within Innovation” and “Combating Campus Sexual Assault.” Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has noted that reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides a model for the committee to move forward in a bipartisan way. The chairman is striving for committee action on HEA in the fall. The House Committee on Education and the Workforce is also gearing up to focus on HEA as activity on ESEA wraps up. APLU is working closely with lawmakers on a variety of HEA issues. Earlier this year, APLU responded to three white papers that Chairman Alexander put forward: APLU and AASCU Response on Accreditation; APLU and AASCU Response on DATA and Consumer Information; and APLU Response on Risk Sharing.

Patent Litigation Legislation

The House patent litigation legislation, H.R. 9, the Innovation Act, will not be taken up on the House floor until after the August recess. House Republican leaders decided to pull the bill as opposition and concerns became more vocal. The sponsors of the bill are considering changes and pushing for action in the fall. APLU and partner higher education associations remain actively engaged in opposition to the legislation, which would weaken the patent system and, as a result, university technology transfer as well.

Senate Finance Committee Approves Tax Extenders Bill

On July 21, the Senate Finance Committee approved tax extenders legislation by a vote of 23 to 3. Of importance to the higher education community in this bill is the extension of the above-the-line tax deduction for qualified tuition and related expenses and the Individual Retirement Account Charitable Rollover. Both provisions expired at the end of December 2014. This legislation would extend them through December 31, 2016. The Committee press release is available here.

  • College Costs, Tuition & Financial Aid

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