March, 2020

In this Issue:

  • Bill Introduction Deadline
  • Proposal to Modernize Cal Grants
  • Higher Education Act Update
  • California Community Colleges Advocate on Capitol Hill
  • GR Webinar
  • Federal Grant Opportunities
  • Upcoming Events

Bill Introduction Deadline

The state legislature has reached its bill introduction deadline of February 21st. Legislators have introduced over 2,300 pieces of legislation, many of them that could impact our students or our colleges. It should be noted that many of these bills are non-substantive or “intent” legislation. Assemblymembers and Senators use this type of bill as a placeholder for ideas they want to pursue but do not have language for yet. Therefore, League staff expects these placeholders to be amended to impact our students.

A full and complete list of legislation can be found here. Below are some of the more relevant pieces of legislation.

AB 2682 (Medina) reduces the amount of time a college can put a new classified employee on probation from one year to six months.

AB 2910 (Weber) mandates that student trustees have an advisory vote, can make motions and seconds, be paid the same as their elected trustee peers, and permits colleges to give them a full vote.

AB 3310 (Muratsuchi) mandates a course in ethnic studies as a graduation requirement for community colleges.

SB 796 (Leyva) eliminates differential and half-pay for employees who have exhausted all of their sick leave but are still out on medical leave for up to 5 months.

SB 874 (Hill) and SB 1104 (Hill) are bills intended to expand the community college baccalaureate degree program.

Proposal to Modernize Cal Grants

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) has released a proposal to update the state system of financial aid for today’s college student. In total, roughly 300,000 new community college students would be eligible for awards up to $6,000. CSAC proposes to consolidate the Cal Grant A, B, and C programs into two programs orientated towards students at either community colleges or four-year institutions.

The proposal examines the current financial aid structure, where institutions are investing in their students, and proposes to fill the gap between the current Cal Grant structure and institutional aid. Due to the significant investment our colleges have done by making California’s community college tuition-free for almost any low-income student, the proposal emphasizes supporting living costs for community college students. For our four-year partners, they propose continuing to invest in waiving tuition for low-income students at the University of California and California State University.

In addition to restructuring the Cal Grant programs to focus on the gaps between the current Cal Grant system and institutional aid, CSAC proposes to change the eligibility requirements to qualify for a new system of financial aid. Recommendations include eliminating age and limitations on when a student can apply for a Cal Grant, which will make it easier for non-traditional or working adults to qualify for the grants.

Higher Education Act Update

There appears to be a window of opportunity to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. Originally drafted in the 1960s, the act governs a large number of programs important to community colleges and our students. Since its introduction, many aspects of life have changed, and many are questioning whether the provisions in the legislation are relevant to today’s living expectations. Today, more than ever, low-income students suffer from an unprecedented amount of debt, hunger, and homelessness, which greatly affects the mental health of today’s college students.

To update the act, the House Education and Labor Committee has passed out the College Affordability Act. Among the changes, it would:

  • Expand the federal financial aid system to better address the total cost of attendance;
  • Create a free community college program;
  • Maintain existing protections for colleges with low loan participation rates; and
  • Enact guardrails to ensure federal financial aid dollars are spent at institutions that provide high-quality credentials or workforce outcomes.

On the Senate side, it appears that both the Republican and Democrats of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) could make a bipartisan compromise. However, each side also has concerns regarding Education Secretary DeVos’ efforts to roll back Title IX protections. In late-2018, Secretary DeVos announced changes to Title IX that would make the definition of sexual harassment more stringent, allow cross-examination between the victim and the accused, and reduce college oversight over off-campus/non-college program-related incidents. Senator Patty Murray has been a vocal advocate against the changes to Title IX protections, while Senate Republicans support the changes. Still, President Trump would likely veto any effort to change those rules. If the Senate cannot make significant progress, a bipartisan comprehensive reauthorization bill will remain elusive.

California Community Colleges Advocate on Capitol Hill

By Larry Galizio

More than 100 trustees, CEOs, faculty, students, and other California community college (CCC) colleagues descended upon Washington, D.C. February 10th-12th, 2020, for the annual National Legislative Summit (NLS) hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

While many attended the sessions and activities at the Summit, the League's Acting Director of Government Relations, Ryan McElhinney, and I focused our time and energy on Capitol Hill advocating for CCC federal priorities primarily with members of the California Congressional delegation. The League works closely with the Chancellor's Office with the guidance and support of Connie Meyers and Craig Metz from the Washington, D.C.-based government relations firm of Nelson, Mullins, Riley & Scarborough.

On Monday, February 10th and 11th, we met with the following congressional members or staff:

  • Congressman Mike Levin (D-CA-49)
  • Congressman Raul Ruiz (D-CA-36)
  • Congressman Harley Rouda (D-CA-48)
  • Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA-53)
  • Congresswoman Lucile Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40)
  • Congressman Gil Cisneros (D-CA-39)
  • Chairman Mark Takano (D-CA-41)
  • Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
  • Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA)
  • Congressman Brett Guthrie (R-KY)
  • Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA-43)
  • Congressman Josh Harder (D-CA-10)
  • Congressman Pete Aguilar (D-CA-31)
  • Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA-11)
  • Chairwoman Virginia Foxx (R-NC)
  • Congressman T.J. Cox (D-CA-21)
  • Chairman Bobby Scott (D-VA)
  • Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR)
  • Congresswoman (Norma Torres) (D-CA-35)
  • Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19)
  • Congressman Lloyd Smucker (R-PA)
  • Congressman Ami Bera (D-CA-7)
  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA-12)
  • Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

A primary focus of this year's visits included seeking support and co-sponsorship of the House of Representatives' version of the Higher Education Act Reauthorization dubbed the College Affordability Act (H.R. 4674). Key provisions of this comprehensive House Bill include:

  • Increasing the maximum Pell Grant award by $625, indexing it to inflation, and extending lifetime Pell eligibility limits. This includes provisions permitting incarcerated individuals, undocumented individuals, and working learners' access to financial support;
  • Permitting Pell Grants for short-term programs with strong quality and accountability standards and measures;
  • Allowing DACA recipients to access federal student aid;
  • Recognition of states such as California that have made substantial investments supporting accessibility and affordability;
  • Support for evidence-based completion strategies and permanently extending mandatory funding for HBCU's and Minority Serving Institutions;
  • Simplification of the FAFSA, alignment with other means-tested benefit programs, and connecting students to other support programs such as SNAP and housing assistance;
  • Expansion of dual enrollment opportunities and improving accountability metrics for federal student loan rates by incorporating the percentage of student-borrowers in the calculation of a college's cohort default rate.

Attendees at the League's Annual NLS Breakfast heard from Congressman Mark Takano (D-41st) and Congressman Josh Harder (D-10th). Both members discussed their backgrounds as community college faculty and board members respectively, and both expressed their deep appreciation and commitment to the CCC mission, as well as their gratitude for the leadership of the entire CCC Delegation.

An evening reception co-sponsored by the League, the Chancellor's Office, the Foundation, and the Los Angeles Community College District on February 11th honored retiring Congresswoman Susan Davis, and her colleagues Congressman Adam Schiff and Mark Takano.

Overall, it was a very impressive showing of the size and strength of California's community college leadership. Trustees and CEOs who have not had the opportunity to participate in this federal advocacy are highly encouraged to consider attending next year.

Join Us for our Next Webinar: Wednesday, March 18, at 11:00 a.m.

Join the League's Government Relations Team for our monthly webinars. Receive important information regarding legislation and proposals discussed in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. that will impact you, your students, and your institution.

Every Third Tuesday of the Month, 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., except for March 2020.

Webinar Details 
NOTE: The webinar meeting ID has recently changed
Telephone Number: (646) 876-9923 or (669) 900-6833
Meeting ID: 623 780 059

Be sure to register in advance for this meeting. After registering, you will receive a confirmation email with information about joining the webinar.

2020 Webinar Schedule:
Tuesday, March 17 Wednesday, March 18
Tuesday, April 21
Tuesday, May 19
Tuesday, June 16
Tuesday, July 21
Tuesday, August 18
Tuesday, September 15
Tuesday, October 20
Tuesday, November 17

Federal Grant Opportunities

Presented by Downs Government Affairs

The League, in partnership with Downs Government Affairs, provides a list of federal grants to assist your community college in improving its programs and services. If you have any questions about the following grants, please feel free to reach out to Thomas Downs at

For a full list of federal grants available to community colleges, visit our Federal Grants page at

Upcoming Events

Phi Theta Kappa Awards Luncheon
March 17 | Sacramento, CA

March in March
March 19 | Sacramento, CA

Consultation Council
March 19 | Sacramento, CA

Faculty and Staff Diversification Symposium
March 19-20 | Sacramento, CA

American Association of Community Colleges Conference
March 28-30 | National Harbor, MD

2020 CCPRO Conference
April 15-17 | Lake Tahoe

Vision for Success Summit
April 27-28 | Irvine, CA

Follow League Tracked Bills at:
Follow news related to Budget and Policy at:

For more information, contact the League's Government Relations and Communications staff:

Ryan McElhinney, Acting Government Relations Director |
Laura Murrell, Communications Manager |
Rina Kasim, Member Resources Associate |
Gerson Liahut-Sanchez, Government Relations & Communications Fellow |