California Institute LogoThe California Institute for Federal Policy Research
voice: 202-546-3700  ransdell@calinst.org   http://www.calinst.org/
Home ~ New Articles ~ Subjects ~ Bulletins ~ Publications ~ Events ~ Formulas ~ Transportation ~ Defense/Bases ~ Search ~ CA Delegation ~ About Us ~ Our Supporters

California Capitol Hill Bulletin

Volume 12, Bulletin 25 -- September 23, 2005    [or see pdf version]  [or jump to the previous bulletin]


CONTENTS OF THIS ISSUE:

Temporary Extension of Higher Education Law Approved in House

Faith Based Amendment Sparks Partisan Head Start Floor Debate in House

Judiciary Subcommittee Continues Examination of P2P Piracy

Endangered Species Act Considered in House Resources As Well As Senate Committee

Stark Teacher Salary Disparities Found within California School Districts

FY06 House Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Senate Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Analyses Available on the California Institute’s Website

PPIC Luncheon Briefing On Educating Mexican American Immigrant Children

Invitation to a New Documentary on Solar Power


To expand communications between Washington and California, the California Institute provides periodic bulletins regarding current activity on Capitol Hill that affects our state.  Bulletins are published weekly during sessions of Congress, and occasionally during other periods.


Temporary Extension of Higher Education Law Approved in House

            The House unanimously approved a three month extension of Higher Education Act (HEA) programs on Tuesday, September 20, 2005. If the Senate accedes, the extension, which maintains federal programs at current spending levels, would give House and Senate authorizers more time to complete work on a long term reauthorization bill.

            The federal government provides over $70 billion in aid to students in the form of assistance and loans, of which California receives $6.5 billion or a 9 percent share.

            Higher education law was last authorized in 1998 and was temporarily extended for a year in 2004. That extension was scheduled to expire at the end of this month.

            In the meantime, both the House and Senate have introduced reauthorization measures that are heavily impacted by budget reconciliation demands. The Senate bill (S 1614) would reduce mandatory student loan funds by $7 billion over 5 years while the House companion measure (HR 609) could cut as much as $8.7 billion in mandatory student loans over 5 years to satisfy reconciliation, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

            House and Senate activity on respective reauthorization proposals has produced some action with both chambers reporting measures out of their policy committees for pending floor consideration. The bills, which are both Republican-written, were given diametrically different receptions from Democratic committee members. In the House, HR 609 authored by Education and Workforce Committee Chair John Boehner (OH) and Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (Santa Clarita) gained passage in July on a partyline vote of 27 to 20. That bill increases Pell Grants to $6,000 by 2012, institutes a single definition that grants ‘for-profit’ institutions access to student aid, reduces borrower fees, eliminates the campus based aid (CBA) ‘base guarantee’ that advantages older universities located largely on the East Coast, and sets interest on student loans at 8.25 percent. Meanwhile, the Senate bill drafted by Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee Chair Michael Enzi (WY) is cosponsored by Senate HELP’s Ranking Democrat Edward Kennedy (MA) and was reported out of its authorization committee unanimously. S 1614 language retains separate definitions for non-profit and proprietary schools, raises Pell Grant award maximums to $6,300 by 2010, eliminates Pell Grant tuition sensitivity, establishes the provisional grant assistance program (ProGAP) which provides $5.3 billion in supplemental aid to Pell Grant students, and provides another $1 billion over five years for Pell students that major in high need subjects like math or sciences.

            Among the reauthorization topics that have the most impact on California are: the elimination of Pell Grant tuition sensitivity which directs roughly $12.5 million away from California Community College schools that provide affordable higher education tuition; and the elimination of the base guarantee formula feature that sends a sizable portion of CBA funds to college campuses based on historic length of program participation, rather than income disparities. Without base guarantee language, the CBA formula is estimated to send $13.3 million more to California universities in Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Work Study Grants and Perkins Loans.

            The original version of the extension bill (HR 3784) was reported to have extended programs through next March, but House Education and the Workforce Committee sources report that the extension, which passed unanimously, would extend higher education programs through the end of the year.

            The California Institute in conjunction with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) recently released a report detailing House higher education reauthorization activity, California’s student aid returns, and the formula components of higher education law. To view a copy of “Student Aid and Higher Education”, the latest Federal Formula Grants and California publication, or for more information visit the PPIC website at: http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=627


Faith Based Amendment Sparks Partisan Head Start Floor Debate in House

            On September 22, 2005, the House approved a Head Start reauthorization measure on a 281 to 184 largely partyline vote after a controversial faith based amendment was attached to the measure during floor debate. The amendment sponsored by Rep. John Boehner (OH), Chair of the House Education and the Workforce Committee and the bill’s co-author, won approval by a vote of 220 to 196. The Head Start reauthorization effort this year had avoided partisan-heavy disputes up until today’s debate, and most other amendments offered on the floor were approved on a voice vote or with bipartisan support.

            The amendment allows faith based organizations operating federally funded Head Start programs to make hiring decisions based on an applicant’s faith, something Democrats contend is an erosion of civil liberties.

            Head Start, the federal government’s school readiness and childhood development program for disadvantaged children, serves 900,000 nationally with a budget of $6.8 billion. Federal Head Start centers are operated locally with federal support and administration from Washington. Head Start is a formula grant, although funds are often directed to service provider centers, rather than flowing to the states for distribution. After statutory setasides and cost of living adjustments, the Head Start formula allots funds on the basis of each state’s number of children below age 5 that live below the federal poverty line. California’s share of grants in 2003 was roughly $817 million or 12.3 percent, and the state’s share of national grants closely tracks our share of Head Start target populations.

            The House bill, known as the School Readiness Act of 2005 (HR 2123) and extends programs through 2011, was approved unanimously in committee by a vote of 48 to 0. The Committee-approved measure authorized $35 billion for Head Start, required Head Start alignment with K-12 programs, established tighter fiscal controls and accountability measures, improved setasides for native and migrant populations, required that at least 50 percent of Head Start staff have an associate’s degree by 2008 and a bachelor’s degree by 2011, and urged the identification of best practices.

            The last time Head Start was considered on the floor in 2003 the House voted for a very different bill that was ultimately approved by a one-vote margin. At that time Democrats and some Republicans protested a Bush Administration overhaul of the program. The President’s plan to shift Head Start to the Department of Education and convert Head Start into a state governed block grant program was abandoned by Republican leaders this year after the House plan was rejected in the Senate. In 2005, HR 2123 enjoyed a smoother ride with backing from both parties. Rep. Boehner, who presided over HR 2123's committee consideration, however indicated that he would offer his faith based amendment on the floor of the House knowing that it would generate opposition. “What’s wrong with allowing the House to work it’s will? ”, posited Chair Boehner during floor debate.

            Speaking in favor of his amendment, Boehner argued that it was commonsense to allow religious groups that operate Head Start centers to have the freedom to hire employees that share their organization’s religious beliefs and culture for the sake of consistency. He noted that the 1964 Civil Rights Act already authorizes similar decisionmaking practices and that the Supreme Court in 1986 supported those practices.

            Rep. Lynn Woolsey (Petaluma), speaking in opposition to the amendment, stated that it was improper to allow individuals in charge of a publicly funded program to use religious discrimination in the hiring employees, although she was not opposed to faith based organizations using their own finances to hire employees based on religious favoritism. Rep. Maxine Waters (Los Angeles) suggested that the amendment would promote the “segregation of America.”

            During debate, two California members had their amendments approved with unanimous support. Rep Juanita Millender-McDonald (Carson) successfully attached language aimed at reducing barriers and improving coordination for homeless and foster child access to Head Start. Meanwhile, Rep. Bob Filner’s (San Diego) proposal to assess teacher retention levels resulting from the bill’s teacher quality improvement provisions was also folded into the bill without opposition.

            For more information on the Head Start program structure and an assessment of California’s Head Start performance under prior authorization language, see the Federal Formula Grants and California “Head Start” publication. This publication, produced as part of a joint venture between the California Institute and the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) can be viewed or downloaded on the web at: http://www.ppic.org/main/publication.asp?i=469


Judiciary Subcommittee Continues Examination of P2P Piracy

            The Judiciary Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property held another in a series of hearings on Internet piracy of copyrighted works on Thursday, September 22. The Subcommittee heard from the following witnesses: Daniel A. Updegrove, Vice President for Information Technology, University of Texas at Austin; Richard Taylor, Senior Vice President, External Affairs & Education, Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA); Norbert W. Dunkel, Director of Housing and Residence and Education, University of Florida; and William J. Raduchel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Ruckus Network

            Mr. Taylor noted that piracy costs the motion picture industry approximately $3.5 billion annually due to hard goods piracy of DVDs and VCDs alone, and that an estimated 400,000 films are illegally downloaded every day. He stated that “CacheLogic, an Internet monitoring group, has estimated that over 60 percent of all Internet traffic in the U.S. is attributable to peer-to-peer (P2P) usage. In Asia, over 80 percent of all traffic on the web is from P2P. Furthermore, well over 90 percent of all the content on P2P networks consists of unauthorized copyrighted files.”

            Mr. Taylor noted the actions that MPAA is taking to resolve the problem, including developing new technological measures to block P2P piracy, providing legitimate alternative access to copyrighted works, educating students and other individuals on the illegal nature of P2P usage, and bringing legal actions against entities and individuals that engage in piracy. In particular, Mr. Taylor stated that MPAA has recently established an External Affairs & Education department to work with educators, administrators and student leaders to affect behavior and policy changes. He also commended the University of Florida’s development of Icarus, which Mr. Dunkel addressed in his testimony, as well. Icarus is a network-based system that can selectively prohibit the transmission of any information bearing the signature of an unapproved P2P application, and manages adherence to the University policies. Icarus also supports other security management issues including: viral and worm attacks; spyware; and other outbound malicious behavior.

            Mr. Raduchel expounded on his company, Ruckus, which was established in 2003 to offer legal online music and media sources to colleges and universities. He noted that, although there have been obstacles to deal with, “where institutional support has included a blanket purchase [of their service], we have been able to gain significant adoption, in excess generally of 60% [of student participation]. However, where schools have chosen an “opt-in” model, where the students have to individually adopt and pay for the service, we, and we understand our competitors, have all faced significant challenges in moving students away from what they call the “free” model.” Under questioning from Rep. Howard Berman (North Hollywood), Mr. Raduchel explained that in only one case where the university president was wholeheartedly committed to ending piracy on campus did usage of Ruckus’ legitimate alternative service reach 85 percent. He opined that Ruckus has found it harder to switch senior students away from P2P sharing because of their reliance on those networks and because they have built up substantial libraries on those networks. He also noted that his company and others are finding that copying from other on-campus computers and sites has been increasing over copying over the Internet from off-campus sites.

            During the hearing, Subcommittee Chair Lamar Smith (TX) stated that he and Ranking Member Howard Berman would be sending a letter shortly to the Government Accountability Office to request a study of the steps that major universities and colleges are taking to curb the campus piracy problem and to rate those schools on their efforts.

            For the testimony of all the witnesses, go to the subcommittee’s website at: http://www.judiciary.house.gov .


Endangered Species Act Considered in House Resources As Well As Senate Committee

            The House Resources Committee held two marathon day-long sessions this week to consider a major revamping of the Endangered Species Act. The bill, H.R. 3824, was introduced by Committee Chair Richard Pombo (Tracy) and Rep. Dennis Cardoza (Atwater). On Wednesday, the Committee heard testimony from: The Honorable Judge Craig Manson, Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, U.S. Department of the Interior; Gary Taylor, Legislative Director, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Jamie Rappaport Clark, Defenders of Wildlife; and James S. Burling, Principal Attorney, Property Rights Section, Pacific Legal Foundation. During the six-hour session, the Committee covered a range of issues from elimination of critical habitat designations, to incentives for landowners to protect habitat, the use of “best available scientific data” in making listing decisions, and the time periods delineated for the decision making process.

            In his testimony at the hearing, Judge Manson noted that the Administration has not had sufficient time to reach a formal position on the bill. On the issue of eliminating critical habitat, however, he testified that the Department of Interior has “been supportive of [sic] need to change critical habitat to provide individual agency discretion to focus on those actions that provide the greatest benefit to the species most in need of protection. We believe that habitat needs of listed species may be addressed through conservation mechanisms such as listing; section 7 consultations; the recovery planning process; section 9’s prohibitions of unauthorized take; section 6 funding to states; and the incidental take permit process, as well as through cooperative conservation grants and partnerships.” During the question and answer period, Judge Manson stated that litigation over critical habitat had drained the Department of significant resources that could have been spent protecting species. He also stated that the Department generally supports the recovery plan provisions in the bill. On the other hand, he noted that the Department was “concerned” that the provisions on species conservation contract agreements lacked sufficient flexibility and would expensive to implement.

            One of Judge Manson’s major concerns focused on Section 13 which includes a provision that allows a property owner to request from the Secretary a written determination that a particular proposed use of the owner’s property is permissible under the Act. If the Secretary does not provide a written answer within 90-days (subject to a voluntary extension that can be offered by the property owner), the Secretary is deemed to have determined that the proposed use complies with the Act. Judge Manson opined that the 90 day period may not be long enough in some incidents for the Secretary to make a decision and there was no assurance that an extension would be offered.

            In her testimony, Ms. Clark, former head of the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Service stated that the bill would “deal a tremendous setback to the recovery of

threatened and endangered species.” She set forth seven specific provisions in the bill that Defenders of Wildlife opposed, including the elimination of critical habitat, and the changes to the intra-agency consultation process under the current law. She argued that the bill eliminated critical habitat without replacing it with a workable alternative.

            On Thursday, during the Committee’s all-day markup of the bill, numerous amendments were offered, including several by Chairman Pombo and Rep. Cardoza which were aimed at responding to the questions raised during the Wednesday hearing. Rep. Cardoza offered an amendment that extends to180 days the time limit during which the Secretary must respond to a land owner’s request for a determination that a specific use of his or her land would comply with the Act and not result in a take of a listed species. The amendment also gives the Secretary a 180 extension if necessary, and allows the Secretary to withdraw the non-take determination if unforeseen circumstances arise that could compromise a threatened or endangered species. The amendment was approved by voice vote. Rep. Pombo offered several clarifying amendments, including one accepted by voice vote that clarified that any land use sanctioned because the Secretary failed to act within the designated deadline must nevertheless comply with all applicable state and local laws.

            Numerous other amendments were offered to modify or substantially rework the bill, most of which were withdrawn or defeated by voice vote. One, defeated by voice vote, would have stripped the bill of the section that eliminates the current critical habitat designation plans now under the ESA. Another amendment, also defeated by voice vote, would have put a 6 month time limit on the Department of Interior to determine whether to place a species on the endangered list once it has been placed on the candidate list for endangered species.

            After extensive discussion, the Chair accepted and the Committee approved by voice vote an amendment by Rep. Jim Saxton (NJ) that reinserted the mandatory nature of the regulations that must be promulgated when a species is designated threatened. While accepting the amendment, Chairman Pombo stated that as the bill moves forward he wants to ensure that the Department has greater flexibility in delineating protections for threatened species than it does when dealing with endangered species.

            At the end of the over seven-hour session, the bill was favorably reported by a vote of 25-12.

            The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the Endangered Species Act on Wednesday, September 21. The Committee heard from several witnesses, including Michael Pasteris, Executive Director of the Forest Preserve District of Will County, representing the National Association of Counties; John Baughman, Executive Vice President,
International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies; and Dr. Robert P. Davison, Wildlife Management Institute, University of Oregon. For the testimony of these witnesses, go to the Committee’s website at:
http://epw.senate.gov . The Senate Committee has not scheduled further action on the ESA.


Stark Teacher Salary Disparities Found within California School Districts

            A new report published by an education advocacy group finds large spending gaps among socioeconomic groups within school districts and across school districts throughout the state of California. The report finds significant gaps in teacher salary spending at schools with high African American and Latino populations, and between low income and high income populations. The most significant gap was found in Los Angeles, where the reported school teacher salary spending gap reached $1 million, according to the report.

            The report, entitled “A Tale of Two Schools,” was down by Education Trust-West and compiles teacher-spending information for all schools within the 12 largest school districts in California. Comparing the overall salaries of teachers within the same school districts, the authors found inequities in salary payments in every district studied, with the gap in total spending on salaries reaching as much as $1 million between certain schools in the lowest and highest income quartile in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Locke High School with a 99 percent minority and 66 percent low income rate pays its teachers $8,000 less than those teaching at Granada High School, which records a 31 percent minority and 26 percent low income population.

            The authors of the report suggest that state accounting practices mask the inequitable distribution of teacher talent because schools are required to only provide average salaries at each school district which does not reveal salary inequities of individual schools within districts.

            Support for a legislative measure in the state Senate that would revise reporting requirements was expressed by the authors. Senate bill 687 (Simitian) has cleared both houses of the legislature and is awaiting executive action. Other policy recommendations that would reduce the disparities identified in the report include revision of complicated collective bargaining constraints, better teaching incentives, teacher accountability authority, improved teacher training, and loan forgiveness support.

            For district by district information or to download the report visit the Education Trust-West website at: http://www2.edtrust.org/edtrust/etw/ .


FY06 House Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Senate Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations Analyses Available on the California Institute’s Website               

            Analyses by the California Institute of the California implications of the FY06 House Science, State, Justice, Commerce and Senate Commerce, Justice, State Appropriations are now available on our website at: http://www.calinst.org/pubs/cjs06h.htm and http://www.calinst.org/pubs/cjs06s.htm .


PPIC Luncheon Briefing On Educating Mexican American Immigrant Children

            The Public Policy Institute of California and the California Institute will host a briefing entitled: Educating Immigrants -- California's Mexican American Children Make Strong Progress, But Still Lag Behind Other Groups, presented by Debbie Reed. The luncheon briefing will take place Friday, September 30, 2005, from 12:00 noon - 1:30 p.m. in Room B-369, Rayburn House Office Building.

            While some prior research has found little or no progress in educational attainment between second- and third-generation immigrants of Mexican ancestry, the PPIC study provides evidence that this group is, in fact, making steady progress. The share earning a high school diploma climbs steeply from 46 percent to 82 percent between second-generation parents and their third-generation children. Moreover, college completion rates more than double from 5 percent to 11 percent, according to the report. Nevertheless, Ms. Reed finds that despite these advances, Mexican American education attainment remains low. Among young adult Californians in third and subsequent generations, only a fraction of Mexican Americans graduate from college (11%), compared to much larger shares of East and South Asians (46%), and whites (38%). This is particularly unsettling because among the state’s 13 to 24 year olds, Latinos are the largest group (41%) –– and a vast majority of them are of Mexican ancestry (83%).

            Ms. Reed will address this gulf between Mexican Americans and other ethnic groups and the implications for California policy.

            To attend this luncheon briefing, please reply (acceptances only, thank you) to 202-546-3700, or email to ransdell@calinst.org .


Invitation to a New Documentary on Solar Power

            The University of California Washington Center (UCDC) is sponsoring the screening of a documentary film on solar energy at UCDC on October 6, 2005.

            The film entitled “The Power of the Sun” which will be screened twice, will be presented by Nobel Laureates Walter Kohn and Alan Heeger and narrated by former Monty Python star John Cleese.

            It tells the story of solar power’s history, and its current and future applications to world energy demands. It is designed for members of the general public with an interest in science and policy makers and opinion leaders in the field of energy. “The Power of the Sun” is a scientific morality tale” telling how, starting from basic science, there emerges one of the most promising technologies to help deal with the great challenge of our time– Energy. That is, finding economically realistic, clean, and safe energy sources to replace diminishing fossil fuels, while energy demands of the developing world continue to grow rapidly.

            The first screening will be conducted at 3:45 p.m. followed by a reception and a second showing at 5:30 p.m. Space is limited. Please RSVP by October 3rd, 2005 to Brandon Johnson at BrandanJohnson@ia.ucsb.edu or (805) 893-2963.

Click here to return to the California Institute home page.  Or click here to send e-mail.
To subscribe to the California Capitol Hill Bulletin, e-mail us your name, affiliation, and email address with the word "subscribe" in the subject line.