Legislators sworn in for 94th General Assembly
Both the Missouri House of Representatives and the Missouri Senate kicked off the first regular session of the 94th General Assembly on Wednesday, Jan. 3. The session began with the swearing-in ceremony, which included the 27 new House members and the five new Senate members.
The House will focus on education, health care and taxes as it begins the session. House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) was re-elected to a second term as speaker and delivered an opening day address that featured priorities of tax cuts, fixing St. Louis schools, improving education and higher education funding, and making English the official language of all state proceedings. In the Senate, President Pro-Tem Mike Gibbons (R-Kirkwood), also elected to another term as the Senate leader, presented his goals for the legislative session, including reforming the Medicaid program. [Read more on the opening day and remarks.]
University of Missouri legislative priorities 2007
The University of Missouri’s 2007 legislative priorities include the operating budget, capital projects, and scholarships and financial aid:
- The University requests a recurring appropriation for Fiscal Year 2008 of $474.4 million to continue the operation of the University. Last year, the University received a 2 percent increase to its budget – the first appropriations increase since FY02.
- The University supports the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative, which would fund capital projects at each UM campus. Capital projects are critical for educating students, recruiting and retaining a world-class faculty, and conducting research to improve lives. New facilities also will spur economic growth and employment opportunities in science and technology.
- The University supports increasing need-based financial aid to improve access and increasing scholarships such as Bright Flight to keep the brightest students in Missouri.
Senate announces committee appointments; House names committee chairs
The Senate has appointed its standing committees for the 94th General Assembly. A new Health and Mental Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield), was created to deal with the numerous health care issues that will be presented during this legislative session, most notably Medicaid Reform. As a result, the former health committee will now be known as the Seniors, Families, and Public Health Committee, chaired by Sen. Norma Champion (R-Springfield). The number of members was modified on other committees, including the Appropriations Committee and the Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin). Hearings for most Senate committees should begin next week.
In the House, Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) named 48 members as committee chairs for the 2007 session. The Higher Education Committee is chaired by Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), and the House Committee on Appropriations-Education is chaired by Rep. Kathlyn Fares (R-Webster Groves). The House is expected to complete its committee assignments soon.
Senate Appropriations Committee holds first hearing of session
Sen. Chuck Gross (R-St. Charles), appropriations chair, called his committee to order on Thursday, Jan. 11. The first committee meeting of the 2007 session discussed the schedule of hearings and the order in which they would proceed. In addition to Gross, appropriations committee members are Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), vice chair; Sen. Norma Champion (R- Springfield); Sen. Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville); Sen. Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield); Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter); Sen. Joan Bray (D-St. Louis); Sen. Tim Green (D- St. Louis); Sen. Frank Barnitz (D-Lake Spring); and Sen. Yvonne Wilson (D-Kansas City).
Education committees hear from Midwest Higher Education Compact
Sen. Charlie Shields (left) and Rep. Gayle Kingery (right) at the MHEC hearing.
Representatives from the Midwest Higher Education Compact (MHEC) presented an annual report to legislators from the Senate Education and House Higher Education Committees during a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 9 in Jefferson City. Larry Isaak, MHEC president, provided an overview of MHEC’s mission of cost savings, student access and policy research for its 11 Midwestern states. Formed in 1991, the organization is governed by a commission with five representatives from each state. Missouri’s five representatives are Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph); Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff); Gerald Brouder, president, Columbia College; Tom George, chancellor, University of Missouri-St. Louis; and Mary Beth Luna Wolf, education policy analyst for the Governor’s office. Robert Stein, commissioner of higher education in Missouri, serves as an alternate member. Shields, who also serves on the Senate Education Committee, was elected vice chair of MHEC last year.
MHEC is funded by a $90,000 appropriation from the state, and Isaak reported the state saved more than $3.7 million through MHEC initiatives in the past year. These included property insurance, hardware and software programs as well as a student exchange program. Missouri had more than 1,000 students participate in the exchange program last year.
Rep. Sam Page (left) and Rep. Kevin Threlkeld (right) at the UMKC alumni event in St. Louis.
Elected officials attend UMKC alumni event
University of Missouri-Kansas City Chancellor Guy Bailey hosted an alumni event at the St. Louis Club last month in an effort to strengthen and maintain relationships with UMKC’s former students. Among those in attendance were Rep. Kevin Threlkeld (R-Washington) and Rep. Sam Page (D-Creve Coeur), both UMKC alums. Threlkeld received his bachelor of arts degree in biology and his doctor of medicine degree from UMKC. Page graduated with distinction from UMKC with a bachelor of arts degree in chemistry, and served as president of the student government during his undergraduate years. Page also received his doctor of medicine from UMKC and was again elected president of the student government.