Jun. 24, 2020

HARRISBURG - Today, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed House Education Committee Chairman Curt Sonney's (R-Erie) amended legislation to update and reform Pennsylvania's State System of Higher Education (PASSHE).

Sonney's legislation, House Bill 2171, which previously passed the House, is deigned to reform the governance and accountability of PASSHE’s Board of Governors, chancellor and the university councils of trustees.

After passing the House, Sonney's bill was amended in the Senate to include language authored by Reps. Meghan Schroeder (R-Bucks) and Jesse Topper (R-Bedford/Franklin/Fulton).

"I would like to thank my colleagues Reps. Schroeder and Topper for their hard work and collaborative effort on this legislation," said Sonney. "As we all know, our state system of higher education is facing considerable challenges that threaten the sustainability of the system. The COVID-19 crisis has made the need for reform even more urgent. In an effort to confront these challenges, the state system has begun the process of a complete system redesign. But they can’t do it alone, which is why we have worked closely with them to develop this legislation.”

Language authored by Schroeder would make needed reforms to streamline reporting, in addition to clarifying and updating statutory language. These reforms include clarifying language regarding cooperative use or purchasing agreements; removing outdated terminology; easing redundant reporting requirements; and exempting student records and emails from the Right-to-Know Law.

"We understand that these reforms to our state system of higher education are needed now more than ever," said Schroeder. "These measures will help the system be more efficient and in turn save money."

Language added by Topper would affirm the system’s sovereign immunity status and update campus police powers.

“This bill is the result of a collaborative effort that included state system of higher education officials to address long-standing problems within the system,” Topper said. “It is vitally important the system is given the means to continue to deliver valuable educational opportunities to Pennsylvanians while also protecting taxpayers.”

House Bill 2171 now heads to the governor's desk.

Representative Curt Sonney
4th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Brooke Haskell