March 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm
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.