State policy

Court upholds University of Michigan's gun ban

Against a tide of pro-gun rulings and legislation, a state appeals court ruled 2 to 1 that the University of Michigan -- a public institution -- has the right to ban guns on campus.

Report details one approach to making college affordable

Report suggests state-federal partnership to keep student loan payments at or under 10 percent of graduates’ income and estimates cost of doing so.

37 Jobs Will Be Eliminated at University of Wyoming

This week, the University of Wyoming will begin notifying 37 staff members slated to be laid off due to budget cuts, Wyoming Public Media reported. At this time, the layoffs will not apply to any faculty positions.

Last year, the state Legislature announced the university would lose $40 million of its funding. The staff layoffs are a response to the cut, and while it’s unclear how many other jobs may be in jeopardy, 80 percent of the university’s current budget goes toward personnel.

University staff are not sure what to expect from the layoffs, said Rachel Stevens, vice president of the staff senate. They have had no indication which positions or departments are vulnerable.

The layoffs follow a number of other approaches the university took to eliminate positions, including offering incentivized retirement programs to employees. All together, the different options have accounted for 369 job dissolutions.

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Medicaid funding changes pressure state higher ed funding

Experts worry drawdown of federal funding for Medicaid expansion puts pressure on public higher ed funding.

Lack of Comma May Derail Georgia Gun Bill

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal may be poised to sign new legislation to permit guns on college campuses this week, but the absence of a comma in a provision excluding some campus locations from legal firearms may have legal implications, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Deal vetoed the campus carry bill last year after lawmakers chose not to honor his request that the measure make exceptions for certain areas of campus. However, the House and Senate recently compromised and approved a bill that would permit guns on campus but bar them in child care facilities, certain faculty and administrative offices, and spaces used to hold disciplinary discussions.

Although the new version of the gun measure is more in line with what Deal requested about a year ago, a Democratic aide identified a grammatical error that may stand in the way of the governor’s signature.

One of the exemptions is written to say that the bill does “not apply to faculty, staff, or administrative offices or rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted.”

The aide, Stefan Turkheimer, wrote on GeorgiaPol.com that the absence of a comma after the word “offices” could change the application of the legislation. The bill is meant to exclude “faculty, staff or administrative offices” as well as “rooms where disciplinary proceedings are conducted,” but as Turkheimer said, “without that comma, it’s just two clauses both modifying ‘offices or rooms.’”

He goes on: “This reading becomes even more persuasive when you consider that both of these area exceptions, if they were meant to be separate, could, and perhaps should, have been put into different clauses. … So unless faculty offices are also rooms where 'disciplinary hearings are conducted,' they would not be exempted. Let’s just ignore whether these rooms are off-limits only when they are being used for disciplinary hearings or whether they are off-limits from carrying at all times because sometimes they host disciplinary meetings (makes less sense, but that’s what the bill says).”

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Study finds connection between alumni legislators and public higher ed funding

Each additional legislator who has attended public college in a state is worth about $3.5 million in state funding for higher ed, study says.

Lawmakers Complain, Tennessee Chattanooga Fires Reporter

After pushback from Tennessee lawmakers about how a journalist handled herself while reporting on the state’s transgender bathroom access legislation, the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga fired the journalist, The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.

The journalist, Jacqui Helbert, worked for WUTC, an NPR affiliate station that receives funding from UTC.

Earlier this month, Helbert was reporting on Tennessee’s “bathroom bill,” which would have required all students in the state, including transgender students, to use restrooms and dressing rooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. The bill failed last week.

As part of the reporting for her story, Helbert went with a group of high school students to the state capital, where they met with state senators about the bill.

At the meeting, Helbert held a 22-inch fuzzy microphone, headphones and other recording equipment in a crowd of 20 or so high school students, but she did not explicitly declare herself a journalist to lawmakers. When her story aired, the lawmakers accused Helbert of failing to abide by journalistic ethics.

“It was glaringly obvious who I was,” said Helbert, who also wore an NPR press pass openly at the event.

Lawmakers, including State Senator Kevin Brooks, said the information shared during the meeting with high schoolers was not intended to be public.

“I don’t recall anyone having recording gear at all, or anyone looking or feeling like a reporter,” Brooks said. “I was meeting with kids. These were young children.”

In a meeting the following week, lawmakers met with UTC officials to discuss a separate matter. However, during this meeting, they discussed concerns about Helbert’s story, noting that UTC receives state funding.

The Times Free Press reported that UTC provided $510,000 to WUTC in 2016.

On Friday, the university released a statement about its decision to terminate Helbert.

“The university's decision to release the employee from the station was based on a violation of journalism ethics,” the statement said. “We believe the news-gathering process must be conducted in a manner that instills trust in the public. Failure to do so undermines journalistic credibility just as much as inaccurate information. We strive to maintain the faith of our listeners and the community we serve.”

Helbert’s story has since been removed from the WUTC website.

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Study: Tuition increases are not entirely explained by state disinvestment

Tuition rose faster than state appropriations fell, and federal aid helped make that possible, study asserts. does headline overstate? should we add "(Alone)" or something, so we're not making it seem like Cato is saying state disinvestment plays no role? dl***Good point. Added "Alone." -RS

Arizona community colleges cope with state disinvestment and declining enrollments

Since losing all state funding two years ago, two large Arizona community colleges struggle with declining enrollments and budget cuts.

Study looks at link between international enrollment increases and state appropriation declines

Analysis finds that a 10 percent reduction in state appropriations is associated with a 12-17 percent increase in international undergraduate enrollment at public research universities.

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