MU Extension delegation visits Capitol Hill

This week members from University of Missouri Extension visited Capitol Hill to thank the Missouri Congressional delegation for their support of the land-grant system and extension initiatives in Missouri. Extension delegates met with U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO) and U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof (R-MO), both of whom are MU alums. In addition to highlighting extension programs throughout the state, the Extension representatives also advocated increasing funding for programs that would expand research and extension capacity. The MU Extension delegation was in Washington, D.C., as part of the Public Issues Leadership Development (PILD) Conference, sponsored by the Joint Council of Extension Professionals, designed to keep Extension professionals abreast of changing public issues that impact communities and affect Extension programming.

Top: Extension delegates John Carver, Johanna Reed Adams, Beverly Coberly and Sandy Stegall with Rep. Russ Carnahan (center).

Bottom: Left to right: Tammy Roberts, Karisha Devlin, Johanna Reed Adams, Rep. Kenny Hulshof, Beverly Coberly and Dave Baker.

icon question markState relations

Senate gives final approval to omnibus higher education bill

The Senate third read and passed SB389 by a vote of 23-11 on Wednesday, April 25, sending the legislation to the House for final consideration. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), authorizes funds for capital improvement projects at public higher education institutions funded through a partial asset sale by the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority (MOHELA). In addition to MOHELA, the legislation includes other provisions related to higher education, including a new need-based scholarship program, an expansion of the state’s Bright Flight merit-based scholarship, increased powers for the Coordinating Board for Higher Education and a new loan forgiveness program for teachers who go on to work in failing schools. The bill also allows the Commissioner of Higher Education to levy a fine should institutions raise tuition above inflation, although a waiver could be granted. The bill is expected to be heard by the House Higher Education Committee next week. If approved by the House, the omnibus higher education bill would become effective Aug. 28. 

Senate approves University budget

The Senate approved the University of Missouri budget for next year on Wednesday, April 25. Included in the bill is a 4.2 percent increase, or about $430 million, for the University of Missouri. The budget will now be considered by a House and Senate Conference Committee, which will begin deliberations next week. The state budget must be completed by Friday, May 11.

Intellectual diversity bill heard by Senate Education Committee

A bill by Rep. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) that would require annual reporting by public higher education institutions of their efforts to promote intellectual diversity was considered Wednesday, April 25, before the Senate Education Committee. HB213 was passed by the House earlier this session. The bill was spurred by a case involving a Missouri State University student who was pressured into participating in a class project that was against her religious beliefs. The student sued, and the institution settled before the case went to trial. Senate Education Committee members heard testimony for and against the measure during the hearing but took no action on the legislation.

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Gov. Blunt attends Thompson Center ribbon-cutting

The Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders celebrated its grand opening and ribbon-cutting on Friday, April 27. Gov. Matt Blunt was in attendance and spoke of the importance of the center in the early diagnosis and treatment of autistic disorders. The governor also has shown his support by recommending increased funding in the Fiscal Year 2008 budget for programs and in-home family directed services for persons with autism and their families. Also in attendance were MU Chancellor Brady Deaton; director of the Thompson Center, Dr. Janet Farmer; and Mr. Bill Thompson who, along with his wife Nancy, was instrumental in the establishment of the center. The goal of the Thompson Center is to meet the challenges of autism in a family-friendly atmosphere. Researchers and clinicians from six different MU schools and colleges are now seeing patients in the new center.

MU School of Medicine students host MO HealthNet presentation

On Friday, April 27, the MU School of Medicine student chapter of the American Medical Association hosted a presentation by state officials on the new MO HealthNet program. Jodi Stefanick, the governor’s director of health care policy and transformation, and Deborah Scott, the director of the Department of Social Services, led the medical students through the development of the new program and its main features. Students were given an opportunity to ask questions and visit with their guests after the presentation. Pending legislative approval this session of SB577, sponsored by Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph), MO HealthNet will become the state’s new Medicaid program.

Photo: MU medical students listen to a presentation on the MO HealthNet program.

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icon question markLegislator profile

Rep. Kathlyn Fares
Rep. Tim Flook

As the General Assembly considers ways to improve higher education in Missouri, Rep. Tim Flook (R-Liberty), a UMKC alum, feels it is important that Missouri position itself to compete not only with other states but also other nations. “Our greatest challenge is for this state to admit that change is necessary in our universities if we are to compete,” Flook said. “The U.S. lags behind Europe and Asia in math and science scores, we produce far less engineers and scientists than in decades past and we could lose our edge on innovation and design to Europe, Asia and India.” [Read more…]

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