A bill that would waive college tuition for employees of the Maryland Higher Education Commission and their children was handily defeated in the Senate Tuesday morning.

Sen. Joanne Benson

Sen. Joanne Benson

With a 12-33 vote, it was a rare defeat for a bill that had made it so far along in the legislative process.

Sponsored by Sen. Joanne Benson, the Prince George’s County Democrat described her bill as a “deal of fairness” and said she hoped to provide a level playing field for those that work in higher education. Tuition waivers are a perk usually enjoyed by direct employees of a university, whereas the Maryland Higher Education Commission is responsible for establishing policies for the state’s various higher education institutions.

Despite Benson’s intentions, several senators said they did not believe a tuition waiver should be extended to non-university employees.

“You don’t ask a third party who has not employed the people to provide their benefits,” said Sen. Delores Kelley, D-Baltimore County.

Sen. Allan Kittleman, R-Howard, who had proposed several unfriendly amendments in previous sessions — including one to waive tuition for state police officers and their children — cited opposition to the bill from the University System of Maryland and Department of Budget and Management.

The bill was up for a final vote in the Senate on Tuesday morning, meaning it had already been approved by a committee and previously received limited objections from the full body. With the lengthy approval process to get to a final vote, bills are seldom defeated when they get there by such a large margin.

—Justin Snow