HBA-KDB H.B. 2766 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2766 By: Delisi Higher Education 77/18/2001 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) oversees several different student loan repayment assistance programs. However, prior to the 77th Legislature, THECB, with very few exceptions, did not provide repayment assistance to attorneys who chose to work for the office of the attorney general (OAG). A law student will often incur high education loan debt, and as a result might feel compelled to accept higher paying private sector employment to pay off his or her debt, rather than working for OAG. In addition, there was concern that the turnover rate was high for attorneys who initially work for OAG. House Bill 2766 authorizes THECB to provide assistance in the repayment of education loans for attorneys who work for OAG. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in SECTION 1 (Section 61.959, Education Code) and SECTION 2 of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 2766 amends the Education Code to authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to provide assistance in the repayment of education loans for certain state attorneys who apply and qualify for assistance. To be eligible to receive repayment assistance, an attorney must apply to THECB, be employed by or have been offered employment with the office of the attorney general (OAG) at the time the attorney applies for the assistance, and enter into an agreement to serve as an attorney for at least three years with OAG. The bill sets forth the terms of the agreement. The bill authorizes an attorney who enters into such an agreement to receive repayment assistance in an amount not to exceed $6,000 per year. The bill prohibits an attorney from receiving repayment assistance for more than three years. The bill authorizes THECB to provide repayment assistance for any education loan received by an attorney through any lender, other than a private individual, for education at an authorized school of law or for undergraduate education at a public or an accredited private or independent institution of higher education. The bill prohibits THECB from providing repayment assistance for an education loan that is in default at the time of the attorney's application. The bill requires THECB, each state fiscal biennium, to attempt to allocate all funds appropriated for the purpose of providing repayment assistance. The bill sets forth provisions regarding repayment of loans by THECB. The bill authorizes THECB to appoint an advisory committee to assist THECB in performing its duties and to request the assistance of the State Bar of Texas and OAG in performing those duties. The bill requires THECB to adopt rules, not later than December 1, 2001, necessary for the administration of repayment assistance and to distribute a copy of the adopted rules and other pertinent information to each authorized school of law, any appropriate state agencies, and any appropriate professional associations. The bill prohibits the total amount of repayment assistance from exceeding the total amount of funds available to THECB for repayment assistance. The bill requires the governing board of each authorized public school of law in this state to set aside one percent of tuition charges for resident students enrolled in the school of law. The bill requires the amount set aside to be transferred to the comptroller of public accounts to be maintained in the state treasury for the sole purpose of repayment assistance of education loans of certain state attorneys. Provisions relating to the use of dedicated revenue do not apply to the amount set aside for the repayment assistance. The bill provides that the repayment assistance program may be funded only from gifts, grants, and donations accepted by THECB and from the law school tuition set aside. The bill requires THECB to submit a report, not later than December 1, 2004, to the legislature regarding assistance in the repayment of education loans for certain state attorneys. EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.