Senate Committee revises, passes omnibus higher education bill without several UM projects

Members of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce meet with Gov. Matt Blunt to discuss their support of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative.

The Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) went into executive session on Wednesday, Feb. 7, to consider SB389, the omnibus higher education bill that includes the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. The committee first considered a committee substitute that eliminated six projects identified as possible locations for stem cell research. The projects included the Health Sciences Research and Education Center and the Business Incubator at MU; the Health Sciences Center and the Business Incubator at UMKC; and the Center for Emerging Technologies and CORTEX facilities in St. Louis. One by one, amendments were offered and passed that added each of the six projects back into the Committee Substitute. Then, the overall bill was defeated 3-7 with all four Democrats and three Republicans voting against the measure.

At that point, the committee took up a second Committee Substitute that eliminated the six projects above and also incorporated additional language designed to clarify that no stem cell research would be conducted in the buildings constructed through the Lewis and Clark Initiative, including any that may be added to the bill later in the legislative process. That version of the bill passed by a 6-4, party-line vote. The revised version of SB389 to was then reported out of the committee and to the Senate perfection calendar, where it could be considered as early as next week. In a statement, Governor Matt Blunt said the “continued movement of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative and the entire higher education bill is a significant step forward.”

Earlier in the week, Mayor Darwin Hindman and members of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce held a press conference to demonstrate their continuing support of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative and the plan’s MU projects, including the $85 million Health Sciences Research and Education Center. Jim Ross, CEO of UM Health Care, and Dr. Bill Crist, dean of the MU School of Medicine, also spoke in support of the projects. All presenters urged community and legislative support based on the projected 900 new jobs that will be created and the estimated $800 million in economic benefit to Columbia and the University. Ross and Crist stressed the planned collaboration between the Hospital and the School of Medicine to bring Ellis Fischel Cancer Center to the main health sciences campus, enabling cancer patients to receive all of their health care services in one place. Chamber members also traveled to the Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 7, to express their support for the plan.

icon question markState relations

House Budget Committee approves appropriations for UMR/MSU engineering program

On Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, the House Budget Committee approved current year funding in House Bill 14 for a cooperative engineering program between the University of Missouri-Rolla and Missouri State University. The program allows UMR to offer bachelor’s degrees in civil and electrical engineering at MSU. UMR and MSU each would receive $500,000 to prepare coursework, purchase equipment, and prepare appropriate classrooms at UMR. The bill would provide funds for any necessary renovations of existing laboratories at MSU needed to deliver the courses. If the General Assembly approves this request and new funds in House Bill 3 to actually operate the program, classes would begin in September 2007. The bill now goes to the full House for approval.

Senate Education Committee considers vet med loan repayment bill, transfer scholarships

The Senate Education Committee met on Wednesday, Feb. 7, to hear testimony on two bills of interest to higher education and the University of Missouri. SB320 deals with veterinary medicine loan repayment, and SB160 relates to community college transfer scholarships. [Read more…]

House Higher Education Committee hears proposal to increase Bright Flight scholarships, extend engineering grants

The House Higher Education Committee met on Tuesday, Feb. 6, to consider HB250, sponsored by Rep. Ed Robb (R-Columbia), to increase the amount of Bright Flight Scholarships. The committee also considered HB134, sponsored by Rep. Jim Guest (R-King City), which extends the sunset provision for equipment grants for engineering programs at the University of Missouri. [Read more…]

Special Committee on Immigration Reform passes legislation out of committee

The Special Committee on Immigration Reform voted to pass HB269 out of committee on Wednesday, Feb. 7, advancing a bill that would require higher education institutions to certify that they do not admit students who are unlawfully present in the U.S. Dr. Kandis Smith, UM assistant vice president for academic affairs, testified at the hearing that the University would like to be helpful to the committee as it finds a solution that works for the state, but that the institution has several concerns about the way the bill is currently written. [Read more…]

Joint Committee on Education elects officers, outlines agenda for year

House and Senate members of the Joint Committee on Education met Wednesday, Feb. 7, to elect officers and set priorities for the coming year. The committee, which includes seven senators and seven representatives, was formed several years ago to review elementary and secondary education issues and was instrumental in the rewrite of the school foundation formula in the past. The new chair is Rep. Scott Muschany (R-St. Louis), and the new vice chair is Sen. Rob Mayer (R-Dexter). The committee said priorities for the coming year would include urban education issues, the St. Louis public schools, MOHELA and new responsibilities that may arise as a result of SB389. Under current drafts of that legislation, the Joint Committee will have increased duties related to reviewing performance measures and other items related to higher education.

Higher education commissioner meets with Appropriations-Education Committee

The House Appropriations-Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Kathlyn Fares (R-Webster Groves), met on Monday, Feb. 5, to hear testimony from Robert Stein, commissioner of the Department of Higher Education. Stein told the committee that the nation is giving greater significance to higher education’s importance, and that a higher education degree gives individuals greater earned income, among other benefits. He also spoke about tuition stability and the relationship between state appropriations and student fees. Stein discussed the responsibilities of the Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE), and said the board is supportive of the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative. The committee also heard testimony on e-MINTS and MOREnet. The next committee meeting will be Monday, Feb. 12, at 11:00 a.m. in HR1, followed by a meeting Tuesday, Feb. 13, at 8:00 a.m. in HR3.

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icon question markCampus highlights

MU School of Health Professions hosts members of the Missouri House
From left to right: SHP students, Dean Richard Oliver, Rep. Tom Shively, Rep. Jeff Harris, and Rep. Joe Aull tour the Combs Language Preschool.
From left to right: SHP students, Dean Richard Oliver, Rep. Tom Shively, Rep. Jeff Harris, and Rep. Joe Aull tour the Combs Language Preschool.

Representatives Jeff Harris (D-Columbia), Tom Shively (D-Shelbyville) and Joe Aull (D-Marshall) toured the MU School of Health Professions on Thursday, Feb. 8, with Dean Rich Oliver. Occupational therapy student Laura Franken and nuclear medicine student Michael Hart led the representatives through the Robert G. Combs Language Preschool, the Speech and Hearing Clinic, the OT Adult and Pediatric Clinics, and the Adult Day Connection. The featured clinics are all housed within the School of Health Professions in order to provide on-site clinical experiences for students, but also provide much-needed services to the community. The legislators discussed the school’s accomplishments, such as a 100 percent job placement rate for its graduates. They also discussed the school’s needs for additional training and research space.  

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icon question markLegislator profile

Norma Champion
Sen. Norma Champion

Sen. Norma Champion (R-Springfield) was first elected to the Missouri State Senate in 2002 after serving ten years in the Missouri House of Representatives. Champion is a member of the Senate Education Committee, which addresses elementary, secondary and higher education in the state. “The University of Missouri is gaining national recognition – helping Missouri attract out-of-state students and businesses and furthering our health care research capability. The more attention we get, the more students and businesses we bring in,” she said. “That is why we need the capital improvements and buildings proposed in the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative – to attract this development. Among the major challenges the legislature has right now is the ability to fund both capital improvements and operations.” [Read more…]

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icon question markFederal update

Federal budget process begins

This week U.S. President George W. Bush submitted his budget to Congress for consideration. Included as part of the administration’s budget is an increase for Pell Grants, bringing the maximum award to $5,400 over the next five years. The increase of the Pell Grant comes at a price for other higher education programs, as the administration recommended eliminating the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG); Perkins loans; and the LEAP grant program. In addition, the budget recommends level funding for the TRIO and Gear Up programs, national initiatives to significantly increase the number of students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education. The budget was submitted to Congress a week after the House of Representatives passed a Continuing Resolution to fund remaining programs that have not yet had appropriations bills signed into law for FY07. If passed by Congress, the President’s budget will serve as a framework for the FY08 appropriations process.

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