December 11, 2019(1)

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AASA Advocates For Federal Policies to Curb Youth Vaping

As early as next week legislation may be sent to President Trump that would raise the age of purchasing tobacco from 18 to 21. This important policy change is hopefully the first and not the only step Congress will take to address the youth vaping crisis via legislation. There was agreement among both public health advocates and tobacco companies that raising the age to 21 made sense, which is why it was so easily passed. While this is certainly policy movement in the right direction AASA believes there is much more that can and should be done to help schools mitigate the e-cigarette epidemic.

Specifically, we support three bills that would address vaping. The first, the Smoke-Free Schools Act of 2019,  would ban e-cigarette use in educational and childcare facilities that receive federal funding.

The second, the SAFE Kids Act, would ban the use of all flavored e-cigarette products unless it can be proven that it does not increase youth initiation of nicotine or tobacco products.

The third, The Reversing the Youth Tobacco Epidemic Act, would ban the use of all flavored tobacco products (including e-cigarettes), prohibit online sales of tobacco products and extend advertising restrictions that currently apply to cigarettes to e-cigarettes to prevent marketing that targets youth.

AASA plans to engage more aggressively in 2020 in pushing these bills forward in both chambers. 

December 11, 2019

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FCC Order on E-Rate Category 2 Funds Published

Last week, the FCC released its long awaited order on the E-Rate category 2 formula. It was an expected decision, but not one that we wanted. The Commission agreed to make permanent the formula-based funding distribution method for category 2, which provides support for Wi-Fi and internal connections, but with a few significant tweaks. One major change to category 2 that the Commission will implement is increasing the floor funding level from $9,200 to $25,000 in order to persuade more small schools and libraries to apply. The Commission agreed to leave the school formula of $150 per pupil unchanged but also decided to establish a single formula for libraries rather than have different formulas for urban libraries. The Commission’s order will also allow for school district-wide and library-system wide budgeting which will allow them to allocate category 2 funding as they see fit. The order also clarified that the category 2 formula’s five year cycle will be fixed and not rolling, and that the next five year cycle will begin for all applicants in 2021. 2020 will be a transition year, with all schools and libraries eligible for pro-rated funding. Comments received by the Commission in this rule making did request that it make cyber security and wi-fi on school buses eligible for support but the final order did not agree to those changes. 

We are still awaiting the final order on the E-Rate cap.