- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Legislation that would allow a person in Iowa to get student debt reduced by performing community service needs more rules specified, members of a House panel said Monday.

The bill needs more information spelled out about how many hours of community service a person needs to complete and how much can be earned toward student debt relief, said Rep. Chip Baltimore, R-Boone, a member of the Ways and Means subcommittee that met over the issue.

“If it’s good policy, it should be in the bill. We shouldn’t allow the rule-making process to be exercising substantive decision-making, policy-making process here,” he said.

The three-member panel agreed to meet again before deciding whether to advance the bill, which is proposed by Gov. Terry Branstad.

Michael Bousselot, legal counsel for Branstad, had said many of those rules would be determined by the Iowa College Student Aid Commission, which would partner with the Iowa Department of Revenue to administer the program.

Bousselot told people at the meeting that his office is open to working on suggested changes to the bill.

The legislation would allow a person with student debt to provide community service to a designated organization that works with a newly formed student debt reduction organization. Once the community service is complete, a grant would be issued directly toward that volunteer’s educational loan.

The program would be privately funded. Individuals or corporations that participate could receive tax credits equal to 65 percent of their donations. There would be a $2 million cap on total tax credits the state could issue each calendar year. The tax credits would be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.

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