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Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

Friday, April 23, 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.

Endowed research chairs legislation advances in the House

Legislation to authorize a new endowed chairs program is currently being considered by both the House and Senate. By a vote of 99 to 53, the House gave final approval Thursday, April 22 to HB1409, which is an omnibus economic development bill. The legislation includes language to establish life sciences endowed chairs that is identical to an original House counterpart, HB1671. This bipartisan legislation would provide public universities in Missouri a tool to recruit and retain the very best faculty in the life sciences through the Endowed Life Sciences Research Chairs (ELRSC) program. The structure of the proposed program is similar to the endowed chairs and professorships program currently at the University of Missouri System and uses the same three sources of funding for an endowed position: a gift from a private donor, a match from the state and a funded faculty position from the participating university. Read more on the endowed research chairs legislation.


The Senate took up the 2005 budget on Thursday, April 22. HB1003, which funds higher education, was voted on and passed. The Senate version of HB1003 exceeds the recommendation of the House. Under the Senate version, the University would receive $400,813,514. In the House version, the University of Missouri would receive $388,738,932. The budget will go next week with other budget bills to a joint conference committee. If the Senate position is maintained in the conference committee, it would mean the first operating budget increase in three years.

Northwest merger heard before House Committee

Legislation authorizing the merger of Northwest Missouri State University with the University of Missouri System was considered before the House Education Committee on Wednesday, April 21. Northwest President Dean Hubbard and UM System President Elson S. Floyd testified before the committee on HB1710, sponsored by Rep. Brad Lager (R-Maryville). No action was taken on the bill. Similar legislation, SB1295, has been heard in the Senate before the Pensions and General Laws Committee. The language for the Northwest merger also has been amended to Senate Committee Substitute for SB755, which is currently on the Senate calendar.

Higher education bond proposal debated in Senate

The Missouri Senate debated the higher education/life sciences bond proposal Monday, April 19, but after nearly two hours of discussion, the Senate placed the bill on the Informal Calendar without taking a vote. The handler of the bill, Senator Peter Kinder (R-Cape Girardeau), offered a Senate substitute for the proposal, which included language regarding the name change for Southwest Missouri State University and language regarding minority participation in the construction projects (as offered by Senator Mary Bland, D-Kansas City, during the Appropriations Committee hearing). Senator Jim Mathewson (D-Sedalia) also proposed amending the bill further by adding $22.5 million for community colleges, which would have brought the total amount of bonds issued by the state to $372.5 million. Speaking on behalf of the proposal, Senator Kinder told the Senate that this bill would encourage economic growth and would help make Missouri one of five hubs in the country for life sciences research.

U.S. Secretary of Education meets with area educators

Photo: Paige, Floyd, Hulshof
U.S. Secretary of Education Paige with UM System President Floyd and Congressman Hulshof.

United States Secretary of Education Rod Paige was in Columbia on Monday, April 19 to meet with education officials about various education issues. UM System President Elson S. Floyd and Ninth District Congressman Kenny Hulshof co-hosted a roundtable meeting with representatives from higher education institutions in the area.

The group discussed the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, with passage of the bill in the current Congressional Session still up in the air. Secretary Paige told the group that high priorities for the administration include improving teacher education programs, reducing the need for remedial education at the higher education level, and addressing accountability, accessibility and affordability. The group discussed recent federal efforts to enact price controls on higher education. "We have not stepped into the price control debate," Paige said. "We respect what is going on at your higher education institutions, but we also hear the loud scream from the field, so to speak, about costs. Frankly we don't know what to do. There is a divided opinion even within the administration, and we must work to come to a consensus around certain issues."

Paige also addressed the No Child Left Behind Act, saying that although it is considered an elementary and secondary education issue, it has an impact on higher education. Floyd agreed that in many respects education must be viewed as a continuum, and decisions made at one level should not be made without consideration of how they would impact the other levels.

Minimum age requirement elimination bill passes House

Missouri law currently stipulates that the University of Missouri may not admit citizens under the age of 16. The University has been seeking to eliminate that section of statute for the past two years, and two bills that would do this are in active status as the session nears its end. HB773 was passed Thursday, April 22 by the House and has been reported to the Senate. A similar provision, SB1052, has passed the Senate and has been heard by the House General Laws Committee.

Photo: award dinner MU Alumni Association President Debbie Snellen and Geyer Award recipients W. Dudley McCarter and Senator John Russell appear with Chancellor Richard Wallace following the Geyer Award dinner.

MU Alumni Association presents Geyer Award to Sen. John Russell

The MU Alumni Association's Legislative Information Network Committee presented a 2004 Geyer Award for Public Service to Higher Education on Wednesday, April 21 to Senator John T. Russell (R-Lebanon). Each year, the MU Alumni Association selects two individuals -- one elected official and one citizen -- to receive the award named for Henry S. Geyer, the legislator who sponsored the bill establishing the University of Missouri in 1839. Senator Russell was honored for his many years of support for higher education and health care issues important to the University. The citizen recipient this year was W. Dudley McCarter of St. Louis.

Tort reform legislation approved by House and Senate

After much discussion, the conference committee appointed to draft the tort reform bill (House Bill 1304) approved a version that has been Truly Agreed to. The bill will be sent to the governor on Friday, April 23. The conference committee substitute was approved on a party-line vote. It does not include any of the medical malpractice insurance reform or tax credit topics suggested by the governor. Republican conferees were concerned that combining the liability and insurance reform bills might jeopardize the constitutional requirement of a single subject in a bill. In addition, they pointed out that a medical malpractice insurance reform bill, House Bill 1305, is pending in the Senate. Read more on the conference committee substitute.