Editor’s note: This weekly update from the government relations office at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) provides the latest on what’s happening in Washington and how AACC is advancing policies to support community colleges and students. Send questions, feedback and more to: opens in a new firstname.lastname@example.org new email.
- opens in a new windowComment period for the Department of Justice’s NPRM on website accessibility
- opens in a new windowAnother legal setback for the DACA program
- opens in a new windowHouse Committee considers resolution challenging Biden’s IDR plan, announces upcoming hearing on WIOA programs
- opens in a new windowFunding opportunities and resources
In August, the Department of Justice issued a new opens in a new windowNotice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on website accessibility for public entities, including public colleges and universities. The new regulations seek to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to government services that are increasingly provided and administered online through websites and mobile applications. Community colleges will be required to adhere to new technical standards, the opens in a new windowWeb Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), for their websites and mobile applications in order to stay in compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA).
Colleges should expect the impact of these new regulations to be broad and for these changes to be a significant undertaking. While the NPRM does note some content exceptions, including third-party web content and postsecondary course content that is on a secured website, colleges will still be required to make course content accessible if a student with a relevant disability is enrolled in the class. The NPRM estimates that within five years, 90 percent of classes at community colleges will be required to make these changes to course content, citing enrollment trends for individuals with vision, hearing, dexterity, or cognitive disabilities. The timeline for coming into compliance will be staggered, but most community colleges will have three years to implement the new regulations for non-exempt content.
Comments are currently due on October 3rd and AACC is eager to hear perspectives and feedback from community colleges administrators who work on website accessibility issues.
This week, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program exceeded executive authority, despite regulatory changes implemented by the Biden Administration that were intended to strengthen the program’s legal standing. DACA allows undocumented individuals who were brought to the U.S. as children to apply for renewable two-year authorizations to remain in the country and receive work permits. Thousands of DACA recipients attend community colleges. AACC has long supported the bipartisan, bicameral Dream Act, which provides DACA recipients and other undocumented individuals with a path to citizenship.
The suit was brought by nine Republican-led states who claimed that the program represented executive overreach and harmed states by requiring the expenditure of millions of dollars in health care, education and social programs for DACA recipients. The new ruling extends the program’s stay, allowing the Department of Homeland Security to continue to renew the status of current DACA enrollees and not requiring any new immigration or deportation action against DACA recipients or applicants. The ruling is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
This week, the House Committee on Education and the Workforce had a full committee markup to consider a suite of education and labor bills, including opens in a new windowH.J. Res. 88opens PDF file , House Republicans’ Congressional Review Act (CRA) challenge to President Biden’s new income-driven repayment plan.
The Biden Administration has referred to the plan – called Saving on a Valuable Education (SAVE) – as the “most affordable” repayment option to date, lowering monthly payments for undergraduate borrowers, raising the income protection allowance, eliminating interest capitalization, and shortening the timeline to forgiveness for small-dollar borrowers. Republicans in the House and Senate, however, have taken a different view, condoning the plan as the “ opens in a new windowcostliest regulation in U.S. history” and challenging the action as executive overreach.
The resolution, introduced by Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Michigan) and Chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-North Carolina), is expected to be approved by the committee on a partisan basis. While a companion resolution was introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), ranking member of the Senate HELP Committee, and 16 Republican cosponsors, it is unlikely that the measure will advance in the Senate.
On the workforce front, the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Development has announced a hearing next Wednesday, titled “ opens in a new windowStrengthening WIOA: Improving Outcomes for Jobseekers, Employers, and Taxpayers.” Witnesses have not yet been announced.
opens in a new windowFunding opportunities and resources
As AACC’s David Baime outlined in opens in a new windowa Community College Daily story, the new Department of Labor (DOL) proposed regulation surrounding exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act will significantly impact staffing and budgets for many community colleges. The College and University Professional Association for Human Resources (CUPA-HR) will be hosting opens in a new windowa webinar on the proposed rule and its implications for higher education on September 21 from 12:00 – 1:00pm ET.
Applications are open for key community college funding opportunities:
- opens in a new windowPostsecondary Student Success Grants – Due September 25
- opens in a new windowAdvanced Technological Education (ATE) – Due October 5
- Perkins Innovation and Modernization Grants – Due October 12
- opens in a new windowStrengthening Community College Training Grants – Due November 14
For more detailed information on these issues, visit the Community College Advocacy Updates page on our website.