HBA-KDB H.B. 2766 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2766 By: Delisi Higher Education 3/26/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (board) oversees several different student loan repayment assistance programs. However, the board, with very few exceptions, does not provide repayment assistance to newly-licensed lawyers who choose to work for the state. A law student may incur high student loan debt, and as a result may feel compelled to not consider working for the state and to accept higher paying private-sector employment to pay off his or her debt. In addition, there is concern that the turnover rate is high for lawyers who initially work for the state. House Bill 2766 authorizes the board to provide assistance in the repayment of student loans for licensed lawyers who work for the State of Texas. 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 61.1009, Education Code) of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 2766 amends the Education Code to authorize the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (board) to provide assistance in the repayment of student loans for licensed lawyers who apply and qualify for the assistance. To be eligible to receive repayment assistance, a licensed lawyer must apply to the board, be currently employed by the State of Texas as a lawyer, and have completed at least one year of employment with the state as a lawyer. The bill authorizes a lawyer to receive payment assistance grants for not more than five years. The bill authorizes the board to provide repayment assistance for any student loan received by a lawyer for education at an accredited undergraduate institution and accredited law school. The bill authorizes the board to withhold repayment assistance for a student loan that is in default at the time of the lawyer's application. The bill requires the board, each fiscal biennium, to attempt to allocate all funds appropriated to it for the purposes of providing repayment assistance. The bill sets forth provisions regarding repayment of loans by the board. The bill authorizes the board to appoint advisory committees to assist the board in performing the board's duties and to request the assistance of the State Bar of Texas and the Office of the Attorney General in performing those duties. The bill requires the board to adopt rules necessary for the administration of the repayment assistance and to distribute a copy of the adopted rules and other pertinent information to each accredited law school in the state, any appropriate state agencies, any appropriate professional associations, and any out of state law schools. The bill prohibits the total amount of repayment assistance from exceeding the total amount of funds available to the board for repayment assistance. The bill requires the total amount of funds available to the board for repayment assistance to be maintained by the comptroller of public accounts in a separate account in the state treasury for the sole purpose of repayment assistance under the bill. Provisions relating to the use of dedicated revenue do not apply to the amount set aside for the repayment assistance. H.B. 2766 amends the Tax Code to require the Texas Supreme Court to deposit 65 percent, rather than 75 percent, of the occupation tax on attorneys to the general revenue fund and to require 10 percent of the taxes to the credit of the separate account for repayment assistance for student loans for lawyers. The bill requires the legislature to appropriate money to the board to establish a pilot program for student loan assistance repayment in the Office of the Attorney General. EFFECTIVE DATE August 27, 2001.