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.

Budget process continues

This week House Budget Committee Chair Rep. Brad Lager (R-Maryville) revealed Fiscal Year 2006 budget recommendations, which will go before the House Budget Committee beginning next Monday. The House version contains much of Gov. Matt Blunt's recommended flat funding for higher education next year. This means the University of Missouri would receive the same amount next year as the current year. Given the state's fiscal situation, the University views this recommendation as positive. [Read more…]

Governor signs tort reform and workers' compensation bills

Gov. Matt Blunt signed the tort reform bill, HB 393, on March 29 and the workers' compensation bill, SB 1, on March 30. Both bills will become effective Aug. 28, 2005. House and Senate conference committees reached compromise positions on both bills.

In the tort reform bill, the conference agreed to partially restore joint and several liability provisions, limit venue options, and cap non-economic damages at $350,000 without annual inflation adjustments.

In the workers' compensation bill, conferees agreed to narrow the definitions of "injury" and "accident," to limit benefits where pre-existing conditions are present, and require employees to use sick time or paid time off to recover from a work-related injury.

Medicaid reform bill set for debate in the House

SB 539, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield), was voted out of a House committee on March 30. The bill makes a number of statutory changes which are necessary to implement some of the governor's recommended Medicaid cuts. The House Special Committee on General Laws did not adopt any changes to the Senate's version of the bill. In addition to the needed statutory changes, certain services are made subject to appropriations. Also included are provisions for the creation of a bipartisan Commission to reevaluate and revamp Missouri's Medicaid program. The bill also provides a clause which would sunset the Medicaid program in July 2008.

Senate committee forwards rewritten foundation formula

The Senate Education Committee on Thursday, March 31 adopted SB 287, which rewrites the school foundation formula used to fund the state's public elementary and secondary schools. The bill, which is being debated under the cloud of a lawsuit brought against the state by several hundred school districts over the adequacy and equity of the current formula, is largely the work of Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph), who chairs a joint Senate-House Committee that has gathered input and reviewed the formula over the past year and a half. The Joint Committee adopted a motion to forward Shields' plan to the House and Senate last month, and the Senate committee made several changes in the language this week in the version it will now send to the Senate Floor. [Read more…]

House Higher Education Committee passes student curator legislation

On Wednesday, March 29, the House Higher Education Committee adopted a substitute for HB 440, which provides for a voting student on the governing boards for the University of Missouri and several other institutions. A substitute of the original bill was offered by the sponsor, Rep. Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs), which included a sunset after four years to give the process an opportunity to prove itself. The bill would replace one of the nine members of the University of Missouri Board of Curators with a full-time student with voting privileges. The student would serve a two-year term and the first Student Curator would be appointed by the governor when the next vacancy occurs on the board. Other schools whose governing boards are included in the legislation are Missouri Southern State University, Missouri Western State University, Missouri State University (SMSU) and Truman State University. Currently there is a student representative appointed to the UM Board of Curators who may attend closed sessions of the board, but the student does not have a vote. That position would continue to exist under the legislation.

Profile: Rep. Jeff Harris, Honorary Chair of the UM Caucus

We plan to feature different members of the University of Missouri Caucus throughout the rest of the session. This week we focus on Rep. Jeff Harris (D-Columbia), who first organized the UM Caucus two years ago and now serves as honorary chair. "I founded the University of Missouri Caucus to promote the interests of the University and bring legislators together on behalf of the University," Harris said. [Read more…]

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