One week after passing the Senate Finance Ways and Means Committee, the Governor’s Focus on College and University Success (FOCUS) Act was passed on the Senate floor Monday afternoon on a 31-1 vote. This was the FOCUS Act’s final step before being brought to the Governor’s desk after passing the House floor last week with a 71-19 vote.
The bill is a key piece within the Governor’s Drive to 55 Initiative. The goal of the FOCUS Act is to create individual governing boards for each of the six four-year universities currently housed within the Tennessee Board of Regents system. The bill has a limited impact on the University of Tennessee System, but it does increase the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s (THEC) regulatory authority by providing the power to set binding tuition increase ranges that all public colleges and universities in the state must follow.
Unlike the House floor session, where debate centered on what entities should hold board member appointing authority and the potential for increased competition between the higher education institutions, the Senate floor session was absent of any debate. After the bill’s sponsor, Republican Leader Mark Norris (R- Collierville), gave a brief explanation of the bill, the legislation was passed handily with no discussion.
The FOCUS Act will officially go into effect on July 1, 2016.Tags: FOCUS Act, Gov. Haslam, TN