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Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

Friday, April 9, 2004

Welcome to UM Legislative Update

Legislative Update is published by UM System Government Relations and University Relations to inform our stakeholders of important government activities affecting the University of Missouri.

Higher Education Bond Proposal Approved by Senate Committee

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved on March 29 a committee substitute bill (SCS SBs 1221 & 1305) by a vote of 12-0 (with one abstention) that would authorize the sale of $350 million in bonds for public higher education capital projects. For details and a current list of projects, click here.

Details of the Senate’s bill:

The bond proposal is expected to be debated in the Senate next week.

Northwest Merger legislation introduced in the House

A bill to authorize the merger between the University of Missouri System and Northwest Missouri State University was introduced this week in the House of Representatives. HB1710, introduced by Rep. Brad Lager, R-Maryville, would provide legislative authorization for the merger to take place upon approval of both governing boards. The bill was first and second read this week and is now awaiting a committee assignment. A similar bill (SB1295) has already been heard in the Senate Pensions and General Rules Committee. For more details go to: Northwest Missouri State University Merger information page

Hotel land lease resolution adopted by Senate committee

The Senate Rules Committee has approved SCR38, which would allow the University of Missouri to lease seven acres of land to a private developer for construction of a hotel and conference center in Columbia. MU plans to use the proceeds of the lease toward the cost of a new performing arts center nearby. Several hotel developers have expressed an interest in bidding on the proposal. The Resolution will next be considered by the full Senate.

Budget/Appropriations

The Missouri House met until 2:30 a.m. on April 6th to work on the 2005 budget. On April 7th the House third read and finally passed HS HCS HB 1003, the higher education budget bill. The bill recommends $388,738,932 for the University of Missouri. The vote was 87 yes and 65 no.

The Senate Appropriations Committee also met on April 6th to set their recommendation for higher education. The senate committee recommended $391,436,931 for the University of Missouri. No action was taken, pending receipt of the House budget bill.

Senate Committee Revises Medicaid Bill

The Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight committee approved a “milder” version of HB 1566, which made a number of cuts to the state’s Medicaid program. The committee removed provisions that would have capped a participant’s asset limits and would have required certain families with higher incomes to pay premiums in order to participate in the Children’s Health Insurance Program. In addition, the committee retained a provision that would allow the state to continue to provide coverage for services such as dental and vision care that are considered “optional” by the federal government. The House version of the bill would have made the availability of many of these provisions subject to yearly appropriations. The bill will now move to the Senate floor for debate. For more information on this bill, go to: http://www.senate.state.mo.us/senmogov/04info/house/bills/hb1566.htm

Endowed Chair proposal advances in the House

HB1671, the bill that would create the Missouri Endowed Life Sciences Research Chair program, was presented at a hearing before the House Special Committee on General Laws this past Tuesday. An outline of the bi-partisan legislation, which was presented by the sponsor, Speaker Catherine Hanaway, is below:

Dr. Steve Lehmkuhle, UM vice president of academic affairs, and Dr. Martha Gilliland, UMKC chancellor, testified in support of the bill on behalf of the UM System. The House committee is scheduled to vote on the bill next Tuesday, April 13.

Tort Reform Bill Approved by Senate

House Bill 1304, introduced in the House by Representative Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood) and carried in the Senate by Senator Delbert Scott (R-St. Clair), was perfected on April 7th after 16 hours of debate over three days. The bill contains a number of modifications to the law regulating civil tort action, including torts for improper health care, claims for damages and the payment thereof. An “all-inclusive” compromise was reached by Senate leaders with the understanding that the differences between the House and Senate versions will be worked out by a conference committee. The Senate made several changes to the bill:

  1. The act now creates a tax credit for physicians of up to $15,000 for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2005, for 15 percent of the increase in amounts paid for medical malpractice insurance premiums from one policy year to the next immediate policy year;
  2. State regulators are given more authority to monitor and restrict medical malpractice rates charged by insurers;
  3. If a tort action occurs in Missouri, venue is restricted to any county within the judicial circuit where the cause of action occurred. If a tort occurs outside of Missouri, then venue could be in a number of locations depending on whether there is an individual or corporate defendant;
  4. A defendant may be jointly and severally liable in regards to economic damages. Joint and several liability may not apply or may apply in a limited manner for noneconomic and punitive damages. If a plaintiff is found to be 51 percent or more at fault, then no joint and several liability will exist for any damages;
  5. Changes the cap on noneconomic damages from its current limit of $565,000 (after annual inflation adjustment of base
    amount of $350,000 set in 1986) to $450,000, without an inflation adjustment. An inflation adjustment will again be applied after August 28, 2006. This act also removes the "per occurrence" language to ensure a single cap and no multiple caps per incidents of medical malpractice, as required by previous legal decisions;
  6. Limits civil damages recoverable against certain physicians, dentists, hospitals, and others to $200,000 for care or assistance rendered in a hospital emergency room;

For a full summary of the bill, go to: http://www.senate.state.mo.us/senmogov/04info/house/bills/hb1304.htm

Spring Alumni Alliance Meeting held in Kimberling City

The Alumni Alliance met at their annual Spring meeting hosted by University Extension in Kimberling City on April 2-3. Sandy Sands, Chair, welcomed the group to the meeting. Dr. Tom Henderson, Interim Vice Provost and Director of Cooperative Extension, gave an update on the reorganization of University Extension. The group toured the Tri-Lakes TCRC and the TeleCenter Network, and viewed demonstrations of the ITV and computer technologies.

New officers were elected, with terms to begin effective July 1:

Chair: Matt Coco (UMR)

Chair-Elect: Sterling Adams (UMSL)

1st Vice Chair: Walt Vandelicht (UMC)

2nd Vice Chair: Jim Job (UMKC)

Treasurer: Howard Simmons (UOE)

Past Chair: Sandy Sands (UOE)

The fall meeting of the Alumni Alliance will be November 19-20 in Columbia.