Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Higher Education Textbook Fairness Act

Sometimes the best bill is one that doesn't pass.

This session, I dropped my bill request for the Higher Education Textbook Fairness Act. Last year, my bill came out late, with significant opposition from state run college bookstores, and concerns from the Board of Regents. Senator Mayne was able to pass last session a sales tax exception for private college text book stores to match the exception for state run stores.

Last session, Dave Buhler asked what some of my concerns were and said he would look into it. Later last year I received this:

"Dave Buhler" 11/8/2011 4:06 PM
Rep. Cox, attached is the new proposed policy on textbooks that will go to the Regents for approval on Nov. 18. I will let you know if any changes are made. This will be the first time we have had a policy on textbooks at the state level. We received much input from faculty and administrations around the state. We tried to strike the proper balance between cost-effectiveness and quality for the students while guarding against any possible conflicts of interest. Thanks for raising the issue. Also attached is the cover memo that will go to the Board of Regents from the Commissioner of Higher Education. Let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Thanks.

Dave Buhler
Associate Commissioner for Public Affairs
Utah System of Higher Education

The policy that was adopted can be found at:


which includes the following:

4.1 Course Materials Costs and Affordability. Each USHE institution shall adopt policies,
procedures, and/or guidelines that further efforts to minimize the cost of course materials for students while maintaining the quality of education and academic freedom. Institutional policies/procedures for required course materials selection shall include consideration of affordability of course materials as influenced by:

Utility of the course material for achievement of course learning outcomes as determined by the instructor and/or department

Total cost of the course materials for each course

Use of the same course materials for multiple sections of the same course

Adoption period; availability of used course materials

Added value of new editions: Approval of new editions only if there is sufficient added value to achieving the course learning outcomes to justify ordering the new edition

Availability of the course materials at the time of course initiation

Availability and selection (where appropriate) of open-access course materials for which there is no cost.