By Ellis                                              S.B. No. 1702
         76R442 KEL-D                           
                                A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 1-1                                   AN ACT
 1-2     relating to a scholarship program to assist deserving students at
 1-3     public law schools who commit to practice law in certain public
 1-4     interest fields.
 1-6           SECTION 1.  Subchapter D, Chapter 54, Education Code, is
 1-7     amended by adding Section 54.219 to read as follows:
 1-8           Sec. 54.219.  TEXAS LEGAL SERVICES SCHOLARSHIPS.  (a)  In
 1-9     this section:
1-10                 (1)  "Indigent" means having an annual family income
1-11     that is not more than 125 percent of the income standard
1-12     established by applicable federal poverty guidelines.
1-13                 (2)  "Law school" means a law school that is part of an
1-14     institution of higher education.
1-15                 (3)  "Trust fund" means the Texas Legal Services
1-16     Scholarship Trust Fund.
1-17           (b)  The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board shall
1-18     award scholarships, in a number to be determined by the
1-19     coordinating board after reviewing the total amount of money
1-20     available to the trust fund, to eligible students.  The
1-21     coordinating board may distribute a scholarship to the recipient in
1-22     installments during the time the recipient attends law school.  A
1-23     scholarship recipient may use a scholarship to pay the tuition and
1-24     fees or other expenses necessary to attend law school.
 2-1           (c)  To be eligible for a scholarship under this section, a
 2-2     student must:
 2-3                 (1)  be a Texas resident, as defined by coordinating
 2-4     board rules;
 2-5                 (2)  be enrolled in a law school as a full-time
 2-6     student;
 2-7                 (3)  meet minimum academic standards established by the
 2-8     coordinating board;
 2-9                 (4)  establish financial need;
2-10                 (5)  have received a Pell Grant as an undergraduate
2-11     student;
2-12                 (6)  agree to fulfill the public service obligation of
2-13     Subsection (d)(1) or the public interest obligation of  Subsection
2-14     (d)(2)(A) or (B); and
2-15                 (7)  comply with any other requirements adopted by the
2-16     coordinating board under this section.
2-17           (d)  To receive a scholarship under this section, a student
2-18     must agree to serve for five years in this state as:
2-19                 (1)  a full-time prosecuting attorney in the office of
2-20     a district attorney, criminal district attorney, county attorney,
2-21     or municipal attorney with responsibility to prosecute criminal
2-22     cases; or
2-23                 (2)  an attorney of record who provides significant
2-24     representation in a specified number of cases per year, as
2-25     determined by the coordinating board, in the field of:
2-26                       (A)  criminal defense for the indigent; or
2-27                       (B)  civil legal services for the indigent.
 3-1           (e)  A scholarship recipient must fulfill the public service
 3-2     obligation of Subsection (d)(1) or the public interest obligation
 3-3     of Subsection (d)(2)(A) or (B) not later than the end of the fifth
 3-4     year after the date on which the recipient graduates from law
 3-5     school or is admitted to the state bar, whichever is later, unless
 3-6     the coordinating board for good cause provides the recipient with
 3-7     additional time to fulfill that obligation.
 3-8           (f)  A scholarship under this section is conditioned on the
 3-9     recipient's maintenance of all qualifications provided by this
3-10     section and performance of the applicable public service obligation
3-11     of Subsection (d)(1) or the public interest obligation of
3-12     Subsection (d)(2)(A) or (B).  The scholarship is considered a loan
3-13     until the conditions of the scholarship are met.
3-14           (g)  The coordinating board shall require a student who
3-15     receives a scholarship under this section to sign a promissory note
3-16     acknowledging the conditional nature of the scholarship and
3-17     promising to repay the amount of the scholarship plus applicable
3-18     interest and reasonable collection costs if the student does not
3-19     satisfy the conditions of the scholarship.  The coordinating board
3-20     shall determine the terms of the promissory note.  To the extent
3-21     practicable, the terms must be the same as those applicable to
3-22     state or federally guaranteed student loans made at the same time.
3-23     All amounts collected in repayment of a scholarship, including
3-24     interest but excluding collection costs paid by the coordinating
3-25     board to another person to collect or assist in collecting the
3-26     amount, shall be deposited to the credit of the trust fund.
3-27           (h)  The coordinating board shall determine the amount
 4-1     required to be repaid by a scholarship recipient who does not
 4-2     complete the public service obligation of Subsection (d)(1) or the
 4-3     public interest obligation of Subsection (d)(2)(A) or (B), as
 4-4     applicable, in proportion to the part of the obligation that the
 4-5     recipient has not completed.  For a recipient who does not complete
 4-6     the public interest obligation of Subsection (d)(2)(A) or (B), the
 4-7     coordinating board shall make the proportionality determination on
 4-8     an annual basis, considering the portion of the obligation for each
 4-9     year the recipient completed.
4-10           (i)  A student who receives a scholarship under this section
4-11     is considered to have failed to satisfy the conditions of the
4-12     scholarship, and the scholarship automatically becomes a loan, if
4-13     the student fails to  remain enrolled in or to make steady progress
4-14     in law school without good cause as determined by the coordinating
4-15     board.
4-16           (j)  The coordinating board shall adopt rules as necessary
4-17     for the administration of this section, including rules relating to
4-18     the establishment of scholarships, the criteria for awarding a
4-19     scholarship, the determination of eligibility, the total
4-20     scholarship amount that an eligible student may receive, and the
4-21     indigent criminal defense and indigent civil legal services that a
4-22     scholarship recipient may perform in satisfaction of Subsection
4-23     (d)(2)(A) or (B).
4-24           (k)  Before the date applications for scholarships are
4-25     considered under this section for any academic period, the
4-26     coordinating board shall distribute to each law school the
4-27     eligibility criteria and a description of the weight given to each
 5-1     factor and the role each factor plays in the decision to award
 5-2     scholarships.
 5-3           (l)  The coordinating board shall award scholarships under
 5-4     this section from the amount available in the trust fund.  The
 5-5     trust fund is established outside the treasury but is held in trust
 5-6     by the comptroller.  Money in the trust fund may be spent without
 5-7     appropriation and only to fund the program.  Interest and income
 5-8     from the assets of the trust fund shall be credited to and
 5-9     deposited in the trust fund.  In each state fiscal year the
5-10     coordinating board may spend from the trust fund to cover the costs
5-11     of administering this section an amount not to exceed 2.5 percent
5-12     of the total amount of money deposited into the trust fund in that
5-13     fiscal year.
5-14           (m)  The coordinating board may solicit and  accept gifts and
5-15     grants from any public or private source for the purposes of this
5-16     section and shall deposit a gift or grant to the credit of the
5-17     trust fund.
5-18           (n)  The legislature may appropriate money to the trust fund.
5-19           SECTION 2.  (a)  The Texas Higher Education Coordinating
5-20     Board shall adopt rules for awarding scholarships under Section
5-21     54.219, Education Code, as added by this Act, not later than
5-22     December 1, 1999.
5-23           (b)  The coordinating board shall award scholarships under
5-24     Section 54.219, Education Code, as added by this Act, beginning
5-25     with the 2000-2001 academic year.
5-26           SECTION 3.  The importance of this legislation and the
5-27     crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an
 6-1     emergency and an imperative public necessity that the
 6-2     constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several
 6-3     days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended.