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Omnibus policy bill is now law (new law)

Published (5/16/2008)
By Mike Cook
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Higher education policy changes relating to board makeup, data practices and Office of Higher Education responsibilities are now law.

Sponsored by Rep. Tom Rukavina (DFL-Virginia) and Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), the omnibus higher education policy law also establishes an oral practitioner education program. Signed May 12 by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, the law is effective Aug. 1, 2008, unless otherwise noted.

Financial changes to support programs in the new law are included in HF1812, the omnibus supplemental budget bill.

The law adds to the exceptions in state data practices law that maintains postsecondary data as private by incorporating expanded disclosure allowed by the Federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. For example, schools will be able to disclose to a parent or guardian a violation of law and institutional rules on drug or alcohol use by a student under age 21, if the institution has a form signed by the student authorizing disclosure. The form will be made available at parent and student orientation meetings.

The idea behind the oral practitioner language is to serve the basic dental needs of some Minnesotans who cannot afford to see a dentist. It is anticipated the first graduates of the program would be in 2011. Effective May 13, 2008, a working group will develop recommendations on education requirements and practitioner regulation. A report is due to the Legislature by Jan. 15, 2009.

As part of the program, the practitioner must agree to practice in settings serving low-income, uninsured and underserved patients or in a dental health professional shortage area as determined by the health commissioner. The program would only work under the supervision of, and in conjunction with, a licensed dentist. This section is effective July 1, 2009.

Other provisions in the law include:

effective May 13, 2008, the three Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Board student members must be enrolled at least half-time when appointed, and at least one other board appointee must represent labor;

the Office of Higher Education and Education Department can, effective May 13, 2008, share educational data to analyze and improve instruction consistent with federal law;

the office must evaluate the enrollment patterns of students from low-income families in higher education, and identify potential changes to increase participation;

a spouse and dependent of resident veterans will be eligible for the state grant program;

making permanent that extra money in the state grant program must be used to increase the living and miscellaneous expense allowance above state law; and

requirements of a student loan forgiveness program for health professionals are clarified for midlevel practitioners, nurses and other health care technicians who teach.

HF3349/SF2942*/CH298

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