Elected officials and community leaders joined University of Missouri supporters on Friday, May 12 to celebrate the announcement that Analytical Bio-Chemistry Laboratories, Inc., will be the first tenant at the new Discovery Ridge research park. During a ceremony at Discovery Ridge, located on Highway 63 just south of Columbia, ABC Labs announced that it intends to relocate its corporate headquarters and pharmaceutical labs to the new research park. “The broad spectrum of support for Discovery Ridge is indicative of the excitement and the potential surrounding the research park,” President Floyd said.
Among the speakers were University of Missouri President Elson S. Floyd; Gov. Matt Blunt; Sen. Kit Bond; Sen. Jim Talent; Congressman Kenny Hulshof; Missouri Director of Economic Development Greg Steinhoff; Curator Tom Atkins; MU Chancellor Brady Deaton; Vice Chancellor and CAFNR Dean Tom Payne; Presiding Commissioner Keith Schnarre; Mayor Pro Tem Jim Loveless; and ABC Labs President & CEO Byron E. Hill. ABC Labs was founded in 1968 by MU biochemistry professor Dr. Charles Gehrke and two of his graduate students, Jim Ussary and David Stalling. Today, ABC Labs is a full-service contract research and development company that provides analytical and biological services for the pharmaceutical, agricultural, animal health, and chemical industries.
General Assembly finishes session
The second regular session of the 93rd General Assembly adjourned at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 12. This issue of the UM Legislative Update provides a recap of legislative activity affecting the University of Missouri.
Higher education budget approved by General Assembly
The University of Missouri budget for 2007 was truly agreed to and finally passed by the General Assembly on Friday, May 5. Gov. Matt Blunt recommended and the General Assembly approved a 2 percent increase for public higher education institutions, including the University of Missouri. HB1003contains $413.1 million in core operating appropriations for UM for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2006. Various UM-related appropriations were either held flat or were nominally increased. HB1007 appropriates funds for innovation centers in Columbia, Kansas City, Rolla and St. Louis, among other cities. HB1011 contains funding for Tier I safety net providers, including University of Missouri Health Care, to help with Medicaid paperwork.
Governor still considering possible MOHELA sale to support higher education projects
Although lawmakers failed to approve HB1022, which would appropriate more than $450 million in funds for higher education capital improvement projects and other proposals from the partial sale of MOHELA assets, Gov. Matt Blunt maintains that the sale may still take place without legislative involvement.
Gov. Blunt issued this statement regarding the sale. Although lawmakers considered and debated both the legality of the sale process and ways in which to divvy up the funds, no bills were approved during the legislative session.
The University of Missouri and other higher education institutions were urging support for the plan so that capital projects on all four UM campuses could be completed. The Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, proposed by Gov. Blunt, also provided funding for scholarships and for economic development initiatives in the life sciences.
Session draws to a close without action on higher education omnibus bill
A proposal that would give new powers to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education, extend an engineering equipment grant program for the University of Missouri, and provide scholarships for foster children and military veterans died on the Senate floor Friday, May 12 as the 2006 legislative session drew to a close. The omnibus higher education bill, SB590, was sponsored by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), chair of the Senate Education Committee. It contained numerous provisions in addition to those above, and most of the initiatives had been introduced as separate proposals earlier in the year.
To rebuke the Senate Republicans for using the “previous question” procedure to cut off debate on the voter ID bill, Senate Democrats used the filibuster to stop consideration on major issues before the Senate on the final day Friday, including the higher education proposal. A conference committee on SB590 had worked late into the night Thursday to hammer out a compromise, which included stripping out language in the bill related to stem cell research and restrictions on the proposed MOHELA loan asset sale. In the end, the 6 p.m. hour brought the proposal to a halt.
The University of Missouri testified in favor of the original Senate version of SB590, which gave the CBHE power to levy fines on institutions that failed to follow board policy, and also sought to include more detailed language regarding an appeals process. The final version of the bill included language that had the Commissioner of Higher Education making the decision, with an appeal to be reviewed by the CBHE.
Proposals to replace curator with voting student do not advance
Student advocates with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri worked with several lawmakers to push legislation that would have replaced a member of the Board of Curators with a voting student again this year, but none of the three bills introduced advanced out of committee.
SB673 and HB1229 had hearings earlier in the session, but the University of Missouri Board of Curators passed a resolution opposing the bills in February. Although the proposals were considered by the House Higher Education Committee and the Senate Education Committee, no bills were passed and the proposals were not incorporated in any related legislation for higher education at the end of the session.
Virtual public school approved by General Assembly
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will begin developing a state virtual public school that would allow Internet and virtual instruction for Missouri residents in K-12 grades as a result of the passage of SB912 by the General Assembly this week. The school will be developed using multiple providers for curriculum, and the University of Missouri’s successful MU High School that offers virtual coursework is among those groups offering assistance to DESE as the public virtual school is established.
Some lawmakers were concerned early in the session that the legislation might only provide an opportunity for one provider – possibly from out-of-state. But later versions of the legislation incorporated language supported by the University of Missouri that encouraged multiple content providers. Representatives from MU High School were among those testifying in support of the bill last month.
The budget approved by lawmakers includes a phase-in for the new program and will limit initial enrollment to 500 students.
Special committee to continue assessing immigration issues
The House Special Committee on Immigration, established to review various proposals this session, plans to continue meeting around the state this summer to consider a growing number of issues related to illegal immigrants, including admission to higher education institutions. Currently, illegal aliens are not allowed to be admitted to public institutions including the University of Missouri, and the University’s application process includes a screening for citizenship status designed to keep illegal aliens from enrolling.
Two bills introduced this session, HB1864 and SB1250, included language that would require registrars at public institutions to certify to the General Assembly that they did not knowingly admit illegal aliens before the state appropriation for the institution is released. The bills also included a number of other provisions not related to higher education.
The University of Missouri has offered to host a meeting of the committee this summer to explore with its members the many issues related to immigrants and higher education. It is expected to be a significant issue for lawmakers when they return in January.
General Assembly approves urban flight and rural needs scholarship bill
On Thursday, May 4, the General Assembly passed SB980, sponsored by Sen. Dan Clemens (R-Marshfield), the Urban Flight and Rural Needs Scholarship bill. The new financial aid addresses the uneven distribution of teachers and nurses in urban and rural areas that are understaffed in those occupations. The legislation allows the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to make available 100 four-year scholarships to cover all costs of the recipients’ tuition and fees at four-year colleges and universities in Missouri. In exchange, recipients agree to teach for a period of two years for every one year they receive the scholarship.
In addition to the Urban Flight Scholarship portion of the bill, the measure also changes the law so that students who are accepted as full-time nursing students are eligible for student loans. Current law states that 25 percent of a nursing student’s loans are forgiven for each year of full-time employment as a licensed nurse in an at-risk area, but this new legislation completely forgives the loans as soon as recipients are employed full-time as licensed nurses in an at-risk area.
The education scholarship is similar to those offered by UMKC’s Institute for Urban Education, which partners with Kansas City schools to prepare educators for the area’s urban schools. The institute requires a commitment of four years, instead of eight in the legislation, of teaching in an urban school setting. In addition to providing scholarships, the UMKC program has a curriculum designed specifically to provide students the tools they need to be successful in teaching math, science and literacy in an urban setting. IUE’s first class of 11 students finished their first year of studying in the program this year.
Bill governing construction contracts for state facilities fails
SB904, which modified requirements for management, design and construction of state buildings, was not approved by the General Assembly. Initial language in the legislation would have required the curators of the University of Missouri to comply with the same competitive bidding and advertising provisions that bind certain other state departments. In action during the last week of the session, the House added language that attempted to limit stem cell research and sharply limited how the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority could partner with the governor to fund higher education facilities in the future. The House voted Wednesday, May 10 to remove a provision that would have dramatically increased the costs the University incurs when publishing invitations to bid on construction projects. The bill failed when the Senate did not approve the Conference Report for the bill.
Health care legislation approved by General Assembly
Numerous health care bills were debated by the General Assembly during the 2006 legislative session. A number of health-related bills were introduced and debated, but were not finally passed. Among the legislation truly agreed to and finally passed was SB567 for insurance coverage of Phase II clinical trials and SB765 that allows experimental medical procedures for emergency room patients. [Read more on health care legislation approved by the General Assembly…]
MU Basketball Coach Mike Anderson visits the Capitol
Coach Anderson visits with Sen. Chris Koster (R-Harrisonville) and Rep. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles).
Mike Anderson, the new head men’s basketball coach at the University of Missouri-Columbia, visited the State Capitol on Tuesday, May 9. Anderson was introduced on both the floors of the House and the Senate, and visited with elected officials from both chambers.
Extension delegation visits federal officials in DC
Congressman Sam Graves (R-MO) with Walter Carr, chair of the Northeast Missouri Regional Extension Council.
A delegation from University of Missouri Extension attended the Public Issues Leadership Development conference held in April in Washington, D.C. The purpose of the conference was to broaden extension professionals’ and volunteers’ understanding of public policy issues and help them gain new ideas for building partnerships to strengthen extension programming. Participants also visited federal officials to discuss the contribution of extension programs to residents’ economic stability and quality of life. The twelve members of the delegation visited with legislators or staff members in the offices of Sen. Kit Bond, Sen. Jim Talent, Rep. Russ Carnahan, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, Rep. Sam Graves, Rep. Kenny Hulshof and Rep. Ike Skelton. Participants also met with staffs of national agencies, including the National Association of Counties, the National Invasive Species Council and the National Agricultural Statistics Service.