Government Relations

UM Legislative Update Newsletter

May 17, 2004

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

This issue provides a recap of legislative activity during the Second Regular Session of the 92nd General Assembly, which adjourned May 14.


The 2005 budget for higher education will rise by $21.4 million beginning July 1. For the first time in three years, the appropriation for the University of Missouri increased from the previous year. The University of Missouri will receive $12 million, which is a 3.11 percent increase and brings the University’s appropriations next year to $400.8 million. UM-Kansas City will receive $1 million for the dental school and UM-St. Louis will receive $2.78 million to help with equity. Gov. Bob Holden is expected to sign HB1003.

Northwest merger discussions expected to continue

Although the General Assembly did not pass legislation approving the merger between the University of Missouri System and Northwest Missouri State University, the proposal made considerable progress in both chambers and officials with both institutions are expected to continue discussions with an eye toward revisiting the issue in the next legislative session. As lawmakers learned more about the details of the proposal, support levels in both chambers increased.

In early March the governing boards of both institutions approved a Memorandum of Understanding, which subsequently was reviewed by the Coordinating Board for Higher Education. Legislation authorizing the merger was introduced in the Senate soon after, where it was passed by the Pensions and General Laws Committee. Similar legislation was introduced later in the session in the House, where a hearing was conducted before the Education Committee in April.

In the end, the proposal became part of a larger Senate bill involving name changes for Missouri Western State College and Harris Stowe State College. When efforts to include the Southwest Missouri State University name change were thwarted on the Senate floor, filibuster threats surfaced and the legislation was put aside until next year. Considering the fact that little activity took place until the last half of the session, much progress was made as both institutions had opportunities to educate lawmakers about the merits of the proposal.

Colleges and universities to keep their current names

The central focus of higher education debate in the General Assembly this year related to name changes, as four institutions attempted to pass new identification legislation and every higher education bill became intertwined around the name change proposals. Legislation changing the name of Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University was brought to the House floor in early February. The House voted down the name change, and it never resurfaced in that chamber.

Around the same time, an SMSU name change bill sponsored by Senate President Pro-Tem Peter Kinder (R-Cape Girardeau) was considered on the Senate floor with a marathon filibuster by Sen. Ken Jacob (D-Columbia). After several days of delay, Jacob struck a deal with Kinder: He would let the SMSU name change move through the Senate on the condition that UM's life sciences bond package was approved by both the House and Senate and sent to the governor. The bond bill was not approved, so Jacob's filibuster threat stood to the end of the session.

This scenario cast a shadow on all other higher education debate and halted progress on several initiatives, including a Senate proposal that would have changed the names of three other institutions. Missouri Western State College would have become Missouri Western State University; Harris Stowe State College would have become Harris Stowe State University; and Central Missouri State University would have become the University of Central Missouri under a bill sponsored by Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph). That same bill also included language to merge Northwest Missouri State University with the UM System. As the bill was laid aside, Shields said it was "unfortunate" that all higher education legislation seems to be centering on the SMSU name change.

Life sciences initiatives review

UM System President Elson S. Floyd sought to build a stronger economic future for Missouri, as well as to solve problems related to health, food production and the environment, by proposing new state investments in the life sciences at the University of Missouri. The proposals were designed to create the critical mass of research scientists, facilities and equipment needed at the state’s premier public research university in order for UM to support an aggressive life sciences program in Missouri. The two initiatives were a bond proposal to strengthen the University’s research infrastructure through six capital projects and a public-private partnership proposal to recruit and retain world-class researchers in the life sciences. For a summary and timeline of the bond proposal and endowed chairs proposal as they moved through the General Assembly, click here.

Land lease proposal runs out of time

Efforts to secure legislative approval to lease land in Columbia for a hotel and conference center ran out of time as the session ended. Concurrent resolutions were introduced in both the House and Senate and were approved by committees in both chambers, but the bills never made it the floor for debate after filibuster threats in the Senate tied to the SMSU name change stalled progress in the final days. Representatives of local hotels also organized opposition to the proposal again this year in an attempt to eliminate potential competition from the new facility. However, there was strong support for the proposal. Several hotel operators from around the state expressed strong interest in bidding on the hotel project, with proceeds to be used toward a performing arts center on the UM-Columbia campus. A group of Columbia business leaders formed to support the proposal this year, and the Columbia Chamber of Commerce also endorsed the concept. The project will be considered as the University reviews future legislative priorities.

Sen. Kit Bond speaks at the ribbon-cutting.

Ribbon-Cutting at Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center

Senator Kit Bond (R-Missouri), Chancellor Richard Wallace, Vice Provost for Research Jim Coleman, and Ed Blaine, director of the Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, were among those in attendance at the ribbon-cutting for the new Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center on Monday, May 10. Bond was instrumental in acquiring $1.825 million from the federal Labor and Health and Human Services FY01 budget for the center’s development and construction. The funding was used to renovate underutilized space at the Center to provide approximately 6,600 square feet of research laboratories. The new facility will enhance life sciences programs on campus and will allow the immediate recruitment of new faculty to conduct targeted cardiovascular research. The center is nationally recognized. During fiscal year 1998-99, Dalton investigators were responsible for 83 external grants and contracts, 38 of which were from the National Institutes of Health. For more information on the Center, go to:

General Assembly appropriates $1 million for new dental equipment

As the state’s only dental school, the UM-Kansas City School of Dentistry is a major contributor to the quality of oral healthcare for the people of Missouri. Recognizing the reliance of high quality oral healthcare on a strong foundation of dental education, research and service, Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) worked this session to secure $1 million for new dental equipment at UM-Kansas City. With only hours remaining before the Constitutional deadline for all appropriation bills to be truly agreed and finally passed, the General Assembly unanimously appropriated $1 million to the University of Missouri through HB1021, the capital improvements appropriation bill.

The total cost for the new equipment is approximately $5.4 million; however, the $1 million appropriation will allow the School of Dentistry to acquire the new equipment within the next year through a lease-purchase agreement. The University of Missouri will ask the General Assembly next year to appropriate the remaining cost of the equipment.

The new equipment will provide state-of-the-art technology and will enable the dental school to maintain compliance with safety regulations and provisions of the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.

Governor’s tort reform veto stands

HB1304, sponsored by Rep. Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood), passed the House the week of March 8 and was referred to the Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. The bill contained a number of modifications to the law regulating civil tort action, including torts for improper health care, claims for damages and the payment thereof. The bill was Truly agreed to and Finally passed on April 22. It was vetoed by Gov. Bob Holden on April 27. The House attempted to override the governor’s veto on May 13, but the effort failed. To read the major provisions of the bill, please click here.

University Health Care budgets sent to governor

On April 28, a conference committee met to consider HB1003, which contained the budget for Missouri higher education. The conferees unanimously agreed to restore a series of budget cuts that had been recommended by the Senate.

The House had earlier recommended that University Hospitals, Ellis Fischel Cancer Center and the Missouri Rehabilitation Center be held harmless at their fiscal year 2004 levels. When the bill moved to the Senate, however, the Appropriations Committee recommended a 5 percent reduction in the budgets for these items, along with all other UM-related items. The University successfully urged that the reductions be restored. Nearly all other UM-related cuts also were restored to their fiscal year 2004 levels, thus holding them harmless for fiscal year 2005. The TeleMedicine Program at UM-Columbia also received an additional $150,000 for a pilot project in cooperation with the Department of Social Services.

To read about other health care legislation updates, please click here