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Bill to Increase Local Education Opportunities Passes Senate Committee

LANSING, Mich. — Legislation that would allow community colleges to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees in several new areas was successfully voted out of the Committee on Commerce today.  The bill would allow more programs in fields such as information technology, allied health, ski area management, manufacturing technology and nursing, providing students with more affordable education options closer to home.

Senate Bill 98, sponsored by state Sen. Mike Shirkey, would add to the list of four-year degrees currently offered by local community colleges.  Community colleges are presently only able to grant bachelor-level degrees in limited areas such as energy management and production, culinary arts, maritime technology and concrete technology.

“Providing students with a better range of choices nearby will mean they have more time and resources for the other important activities outside of school,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake.  “Since many attending these colleges are adults who would benefit from a shorter drive and more affordable tuition, we are pleased the bill has moved through committee and anticipate enthusiastic support as it comes to the floor.”

Senate Bill 98 is also designed to help address the “skills gap,” an employment situation created when employers can’t find qualified hires while there are simultaneously unemployed people looking for work who lack the necessary training to fill those jobs.

Supporters of the legislation include prominent health organizations that view this bill as an opportunity to increase the supply of high-demand degrees.  The growing demand for registered nurses who must now hold a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing has been noted as a particularly important reason for this type of legislation.

SB 98 has been sent to the Senate floor for a vote.