University of Missouri Legislative Update University of Missouri

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

Name change bill moves to the House

After an all-night, 14-hour filibuster led by Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia), the Senate this week passed legislation that changes the name of Southwest Missouri State University and several other institutions. The filibuster for SB 98 ended shortly after Graham passed an amendment that would prohibit SMSU from duplicating programs, adopting a land-grant mission or receiving additional state funds as a result of the name change. Those conditions reflected comments last week by UM President Elson S. Floyd and supported by the Board of Curators during a meeting in Columbia. The final vote was 25-7, and the bill now moves to the House.
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Stem cell legislation voted out of Senate committee

Senate Bill 160, which prohibits human cloning, was voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on February 14. Seven of the nine committee members voted in favor of the bill. If SB 160 is reported to the Senate floor by the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Sen. Matt Bartle (R-Lee’s Summit), who also is the sponsor of the bill, then the next step would be debate by the full Senate.

Tort reform bill proceeds to the Senate

On February 17, the House of Representatives approved the tort reform bill sponsored by Rep. Richard Byrd (R-Kirkwood). After close to eight hours of debate, allotted equally among the two parties, HCS for HB 393 was passed with 106 ayes and 52 noes and with few amendments. In its major provisions, the bill:
 
• tightens restrictions on venue by limiting it to the place where the injury first occurred, the defendants’ principal place of residence or business, or a location agreed upon by all parties;
 
• eliminates joint and several liability of multiple defendants;
 
• limits punitive damages to $250,000 or three times the net amount of the judgment, whichever is greater; and
 
• limits non-economic damages to $250,000.
 
The bill will now proceed to the Senate for hearing and debate.

House Higher Education Committee hears bill that would require roll call votes of governing boards

The House Higher Education Committee on Tuesday, Feb.15 heard HB 103, sponsored by Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield), that would require the Board of Curators and other higher education governing boards to conduct roll-call votes on all policy decision items. The bill also would require that the votes as well as administrative summaries be included in a journal of the meetings and made open to the public. UM President Elson S. Floyd has indicated he is supportive of the proposal and plans to follow the recommendations regardless of the outcome of the legislation. Several Committee members suggested minor wording changes in the bill and a substitute is expected to be offered soon. The Committee took no action on the bill.

Senate Education Committee considers tuition and budget measure

The Senate Education Committee heard a new proposal for setting tuition on Tuesday, Feb. 15. SB 231, sponsored by Sen. Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) would set up a process higher education institutions must follow if they plan to increase tuition at levels above the Consumer Price Index. Institutions would be required to announce their tuition level and reasoning for that level six months in advance of the fall semester, and public hearings would be conducted. The institutions would then draft a summary of the hearings and submit the plan to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, which would then certify that the process was followed and forward that material to the governor and General Assembly. A second section of the bill would require the University of Missouri to submit a line-item budget to the Coordinating Board and General Assembly each year. During the hearing, senators asked Crowell about the process that is currently followed for tuition and budgeting and several changes were discussed. The Committee took no action on the bill.

Education Appropriations Committees hold meetings

The House Education Appropriations Committee focused primarily on the budget for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education this week. They began with a presentation by Dr. Kent King, Commissioner. Attention was focused on funding for present programs, with multiple inquires related to how a new school foundation formula might work.

The Senate Education Appropriations Committee continued to hear testimony concerning the budgets for the various state departments and statewide office holders.

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