Question of the Week: Will the ND Senate Pass Higher Ed Reform?

On Friday, the North Dakota House of Representatives made some key decisions on the future of higher education governance in the state through voting on three Concurrent Resolutions:

HCR3008, introduced by Rep. Mark Dosch, would have stripped mention of the state universities out of the state constitution, allowing them to be closed through statute if the legislature decides it. That bill failed by a surprisingly narrow 45-47 vote.

HCR3042, introduced by Rep. Rick Becker, was also considered today. It would have replaced the existing State Board of Higher Education with an elected chancellor advised by a board appointed by the governor. It failed on a 21-70 vote, but only after another resolution calling for a similar sort of reform passed.

HCR3047, introduced by House Majority Leader Al Carlson, passed on a 62-28 vote (Rep. Becker stood up and supported the vote). It would replace the chancellor and the SBHE with an appointee by the governor who would serve at the pleasure of the governor and who would govern the university system within the confines of laws passed by the legislature.

As shown above, HCR 3047 passed the house and by a decent margin. Whether that was the best model for higher education governance reform is a matter for another debate (we here at SAB felt HCR 3042 was the best model), but what matters is HCR 3047 moves on to the Senate. It isn’t a perfect solution (and does one really exist?) but it is a much better solution than what we have now under the State Board of Higher Education governance model.

On March 13th, the Senate rejected Sen Joe Miller’s recommendations for higher education reform. No committee recommendation accompanied it either because, according to bill carrier Sen Nicole Poolman, the committee believe there is a need for this sort of reform but felt that Senator Miller’s bill was “the wrong vehicle for it.”

Which sets us up for our Question of the Week.

Will the North Dakota Senate see Rep Al Carlson’s proposal as the “right vehicle” for higher education governance reform, and vote for it’s passage? Or (since there are no other governance resolutions left), will they decide this too is the “wrong vehicle” and defeat it in favor of the status quo…a status quo the Senate has a bad reputation of protecting? Most importantly, why do you feel this way?

Discuss….

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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