Even as the state budget is being debated in Harrisburg, our state senators and representatives are working on other pieces of legislation with relevance for APSCUF.

A member of the PASSHE Board of Governors, state Rep. Matt Baker recently introduced the Commonwealth Higher Education Modernization Act, which “provides guidelines to allow State-owned universities and PASSHE employees to enter into agreements for economic development transactions that inure to the benefit of the State-owned university and PASSHE employees and provides for applied doctorates at state-owned universities,” according to a summary by Pennsylvania Legislative Services. Rep. Mike Hanna, another Board of Governors member, has also signed on as a lead co-sponsor. For more information, you can read Rep. Baker’s co-sponsorship memo or the bill’s full text. Rep. Baker has introduced the bill, and the House referred it to the Education Committee on April 13.

APSCUF reviewed the language with legal counsel prior to its formal introduction, making sure it did not impair or limit the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.  That language was inserted prior to formal introduction.

When the APSCUF Legislative Committee reconvenes, this legislation will be on the agenda to consider a formal position for the newly introduced proposal, as the committee previously reviewed it in the draft stage.

Another development of note, many of you probably read about Gov. Tom Corbett’s proposal to allow natural gas drilling on several campuses that are located on the Marcellus Shale field. Here are some recent clips on the topic:

Corbett: Colleges could ease financial woes with Marcellus drilling, Erie Times-News, April 29

Corbett to Pa. colleges: Drill down, Philadelphia Inquirer, April 29

Corbett backs idea to let schools keep gas royalties, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 29

On Tuesday, a Senate committee approved a bill that would permit PASSHE to enter into contracts or leases for natural gas drilling on State System land, with those funds going to a special environmental and recreational fund in the state budget. Here’s a clip on yesterday’s legislative action:

Panel approves campus leasing bill, Towanda Daily Review, May 4

APSCUF will continue to monitor this bill and all legislation that would impact PASSHE schools, students and faculty members.