A proposal to reorganize the Board of Regents to better reflect rural Utah was the first bill of the 1991 session to die in floor debate.

Despite a favorable committee recommendation, HB69, which would have required board membership to include someone from every county with an institution of high learning, was defeated 35-39.Rural lawmakers argue that the Board of Regents is composed almost exclusively of members from the Wasatch Front, while colleges and universities are scattered throughout the state.

"Higher education is not a county issue," said House Majority Leader Rob Bishop, R-Brigham City, arguing against the bill. "Counties don't pay for it and counties without a college still pay taxes to support a statewide system of higher education."

- The state's four colleges that act as regional Applied Technology Centers should receive state funding for the vocational education classes that they provide to high school students and adults, the Joint Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee decided Wednesday.

In the preliminary action, the subcommittee agreed that Dixie College, Utah Valley Community College, Salt Lake Community College and College of Eastern Utah, which provide vocational training for underserved regions of the state, should get $1.2 million. The subcommittee's preliminary decision is contingent on the Joint Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee approving a corresponding $1.2 million in the public education budget.

Commissioner of Higher Education Wm. Rolfe Kerr argued before the subcommittee that, over the years, the state's five ATCs have received funding, through public education, for their vocational training, but the colleges have not. "There needs to be a sense of equity - comparable programs at comparable costs," Kerr said.

The colleges shouldn't spend the money yet. The subcommittee hasn't finished its second week of deliberations and already its preliminary appropriations are $25 million over the legislative fiscal analyst's recommendations.