1997 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Representative Robinson (63rd)
House Bill 1656
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-101-15, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF STATE INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING TO ALLOW ALL HONORS GRADUATES OF PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOLS IN THE STATE TO ATTEND THEIR FIRST YEAR OF COLLEGE AT A PUBLIC INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING WITHOUT COST OF TUITION OR CAMPUS HOUSING; TO PROVIDE QUALIFICATIONS AND RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE TUITION ASSISTANCE; TO PROVIDE FOR THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE TUITION ASSISTANCE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-101-15, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-101-15. (a) The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall succeed to and continue to exercise control of all records, books, papers, equipment, and supplies, and all lands, buildings, and other real and personal property belonging to or assigned to the use and benefit of the board of trustees formerly supervising and controlling the institutions of higher learning named in Section 37-101-1. The board shall have and exercise control of the use, distribution and disbursement of all funds, appropriations and taxes, now and hereafter in possession, levied and collected, received, or appropriated for the use, benefit, support, and maintenance or capital outlay expenditures of the institutions of higher learning, including the authorization of employees to sign vouchers for the disbursement of funds for the various institutions, except where otherwise specifically provided by law.
(b) The board shall have general supervision of the affairs of all the institutions of higher learning, including the departments and the schools thereof. The board shall have the power in its discretion to determine who shall be privileged to enter, to remain in, or to graduate therefrom. The board shall have general supervision of the conduct of libraries and laboratories, the care of dormitories, buildings, and grounds; the business methods and arrangement of accounts and records; the organization of the administrative plan of each institution; and all other matters incident to the proper functioning of the institutions. The board shall have the authority to establish minimum standards of achievement as a prerequisite for entrance into any of the institutions under its jurisdiction, which standards need not be uniform between the various institutions and which may be based upon such criteria as the board may establish.
The board shall require all the institutions of higher learning to allow all honors graduates of public or private high schools in the state to attend any public or private institution of higher learning without cost of tuition or campus housing as provided in Section 2 of this act.
(c) The board shall exercise all the powers and prerogatives conferred upon it under the laws establishing and providing for the operation of the several institutions herein specified. The board shall adopt such bylaws and regulations from time to time as it deems expedient for the proper supervision and control of the several institutions of higher learning, insofar as such bylaws and regulations are not repugnant to the constitution and laws, and not inconsistent with the object for which these institutions were established. The board shall have power and authority to prescribe rules and regulations for policing the campuses and all buildings of the respective institutions, to authorize the arrest of all persons violating on any campus any criminal law of the state, and to have such law violators turned over to the civil authorities.
(d) For all institutions specified herein, the board shall provide a uniform system of recording and of accounting approved by the State Department of Audit. The board shall annually prepare, or cause to be prepared, a budget for each institution of higher learning for the succeeding year which must be prepared and in readiness for at least thirty (30) days before the convening of the regular session of the Legislature. All relationships and negotiations between the state Legislature and its various committees and the institutions named herein shall be carried on through the board of trustees. No official, employee or agent representing any of the separate institutions shall appear before the Legislature or any committee thereof except upon the written order of the board or upon the request of the Legislature or a committee thereof.
(e) For all institutions specified herein, the board shall prepare an annual report to the Legislature setting forth the disbursements of all moneys appropriated to the respective institutions. Each report to the Legislature shall show how the money appropriated to the several institutions has been expended, beginning and ending with the fiscal years of the institutions, showing the name of each teacher, officer, and employee, and the salary paid each, and an itemized statement of each and every item of receipts and expenditures. Each report must be balanced, and must begin with the former balance. If any property belonging to the state or the institution is used for profit, the reports shall show the expense incurred in managing the property and the amount received therefrom. The reports shall also show a summary of the gross receipts and gross disbursements for each year and shall show the money on hand at the beginning of the fiscal period of the institution next preceding each session of the Legislature and the necessary amount of expense to be incurred from said date to January 1 following. The board shall keep the annual expenditures of each institution herein mentioned within the income derived from legislative appropriations and other sources, but in case of emergency arising from acts of providence, epidemics, fire or storm with the written approval of the Governor and by written consent of a majority of the Senators and of the Representatives it may exceed the income. The board shall require a surety bond in a surety company authorized to do business in this state, of every employee who is the custodian of funds belonging to one or more of the institutions mentioned herein, which bond shall be in a sum to be fixed by the board in an amount that will properly safeguard the said funds, the premium for which shall be paid out of the funds appropriated for said institutions.
(f) The board shall have the power and authority to elect the heads of the various institutions of higher learning and to contract with all deans, professors, and other members of the teaching staff, and all administrative employees of said institutions for a term of not exceeding four (4) years. The board shall have the power and authority to terminate any such contract at any time for malfeasance, inefficiency, or contumacious conduct, but never for political reasons. It shall be the policy of the board to permit the executive head of each institution to nominate for election by the board all subordinate employees of the institution over which he presides. It shall be the policy of the board to elect all officials for a definite tenure of service and to reelect during the period of satisfactory service. The board shall have the power to make any adjustments it thinks necessary between the various departments and schools of any institution or between the different institutions.
(g) The board shall keep complete minutes and records of all proceedings which shall be open for inspection by any citizen of the state.
(h) The board shall have the power to contract, on a shared-savings, lease or lease-purchase basis, for energy efficiency services and/or equipment as prescribed in Section 31-7-14, not to exceed ten (10) years.
SECTION 2. (1) The tuition and cost of campus housing at any public or private institution of higher learning in the state shall be paid by the state on behalf of any honors graduate of a public or private high school who enrolls in any public or private institution of higher learning in the state to pursue an academic undergraduate degree, who applies for the payment thereof, and who meets all of the following qualifications:
(a) Actual residence in Mississippi during the twenty-four (24) months immediately preceding university enrollment. For the purposes of this paragraph, residency shall be demonstrated by proof of the following as required by the administering agency:
(i) If registered to vote, being registered in Mississippi.
(ii) If licensed to drive a motor vehicle, being in possession of a Mississippi driver's license.
(iii) If owning a motor vehicle located within Mississippi, being in possession of Mississippi registration for that vehicle.
(iv) If earning an income, having filed a Mississippi state income tax return and having complied with state income tax laws and regulations.
(b) Graduation from high school as an honors graduate within the two (2) years preceding the application with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 calculated on a 4.0 scale. Each of the public schools in the state shall determine which of their graduating seniors academic standing warrants them being named an honors graduate.
(3) To maintain continued state payment of tuition, once enrolled in college a student shall meet all of the following requirements:
(a) Make steady academic progress toward a degree, earning not less than the minimum number of hours of credit required for full-time standing in each academic period requiring such enrollment;
(b) Maintain continuous enrollment for not less than two (2) semesters or three (3) quarters in each successive academic year, unless granted an exception for cause by the administering agency;
(c) Have a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 calculated on a 4.0 scale at the end of the first academic semester.
(4) The provisions of this act shall be administered by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning. The board may provide by rule for all matters necessary for the implementation of this act.
(5) By rule, the board shall provide for:
(a) A mechanism for informing all students of the availability of the assistance provided pursuant to this act early enough in their schooling that a salutary motivational effect is possible.
(b) Applications, forms, financial audit procedures, eligibility and other program audit procedures and other matters related to efficient operation.
(6) An appropriation of funds shall annually be made to the board sufficient to cover, in addition to any other available funds, the costs of tuition required to be paid, both initial and continuing, for the coming academic year. All such payments shall be made directly to the institution to which such tuition is due after notice to the school that the state shall pay the tuition of a student and after notice from the school that the student has actually enrolled.
(7) The board may seek, accept and expend funds from any source, including private business, industry, foundations and other groups as well as any federal or other governmental funding available for this purpose.
(8) No student shall receive tuition assistance under this act in an amount greater than the tuition charged by the school.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.