Government Relations

Government Relations Legislative Update

Government Relations Legislative Update

Updates on state and federal issues relating to the UW System.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Federal Legislative Update of April 9

The Senate will return from its spring recess on Monday , April 12. The chamber will resume consideration of the Continuing Extension Act (H.R. 4851), legislation to provide short-term extensions of health and assistance benefits for the unemployed, flood insurance, and higher Medicare payments for physicians, all which expired on March 31. Senators were unable to approve the bill before the recess because of partisan differences over whether to offset the cost of the program extensions.

The House will return on Tuesday , April 13, but at this writing, no legislative program has been announced.


A summary and analysis of the education provisions in the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-152) is available from the Congressional Research Service (CRS) (

The CRS report describes and provides a history of the education-related provisions in the bill, and discusses how selected provisions amend the Higher Education Act and other laws.


The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Economic Council (NEC) are soliciting ideas from the public on how to increase the economic impact of the federal investment in university R&D and of the "innovations being fostered in federal and private proof of concept centers (POCCs)."

The request for information (RFI) ( focuses on two questions: how best to encourage commercialization of university research and whether POCCs can be a means of stimulating the commercialization of early-stage technologies by bridging the "valley of death" between new technologies and product development.

The RFI is viewed as part of an ongoing effort by the Administration to enhance the commercialization of new technologies and ideas generated from university-based research. It builds upon earlier efforts, such as Commerce Secretary Gary Locke's forum held February 24th, "Catalyzing University Research for a Stronger Economy."

Comments should be submitted by Monday , April 26 . The UW System Office of Federal Relations will assist in developing a joint response if your campuses are interested in responding to the RFI.


The Treasury Department is soliciting public comments on the feasibility of requiring college students to perform community service in order to receive Lifetime Learning and American Opportunity federal tax credits for tuition and related expenses.

According to a notice published in the March 30, 2010 Federal Register, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (P.L. 111-5) directs the Departments of the Treasury and Education to explore the pros and cons of such a requirement and report back to Congress on the study. Written comments from the public must be received before April 29, 2010 .

Among the questions of particular interest to the Treasury Department are whether such a requirement should be implemented, and, if so, whether institutions of higher education should be tasked with administering it. If colleges and universities should handle such a program, the notice asks, what would be the major operational and administrative challenges and how would institutions ensure student eligibility and that "meaningful" community service opportunities are available for all students?

The UW System Office of Federal Relations will assist campuses in responding to the notice or developing a joint UW System response.


On Tuesday, April 6, Dr. Terry Millar, Associate Dean of the Graduate School at UW-Madison, Dr. Lynne Thomson, Interim Special Assistant tot he Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Develoment and Interm Director of the Office of Sponsored Programs at UWM, Vijendra Agarwal, Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Professor of Physics at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and Kris Andrews, Assistant Vice President for Federal Relations participated in a NSF Listening Session that was convened by Congressman Daniel Lipinski, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education in the U.S. House of Representatives. The session was held at Northwestern University in downtown Chicago. The purpose of the listening session was to ensure that legislation being drafted to reauthorize the National Science Foundation and the America COMPETES Act reflects the priorities and experiences of the academic community. Approximately 20 academic leaders from across the Midwest discussed policy topics ranging from economic competitiveness, STEM education, research infrastructure, and research program design.

(The American Association of Universities and UW System Office of Federal Relations contributed to this report.)