General Assembly finishes session
The first regular session of the 94th General Assembly adjourned at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 18. This issue of the UM Legislative Update provides a recap of legislative activity impacting the University of Missouri.
Higher education budget approved by General Assembly
Gov. Matt Blunt has begun review of the budget presented to him by the General Assembly. Appropriations for the University of Missouri increased by 4.2 percent, or $100,000 above the governor´s recommendation of $430.8 million, for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, 2007. The governor will announce his decisions on the budget within the next 45 days. Missouri governors have the power of "line item veto" to reduce any appropriation deemed excessive.
The General Assembly failed to act on HB19, one of the capital improvement bills for next year. Contained in the bill was $500,000 in funding for laboratory improvements and program development at the University of Missouri-Rolla for the new cooperative engineering program with Missouri State University in Springfield. The bill also contained $200,000 in planning funds for a new facility for the State Historical Society located in Columbia. The General Assembly did, however, provide operating funds for the engineering program, which may now begin in September 2008.
SB389 passage highlights busy session for higher education
Higher education in Missouri will see significant changes as a result of the passage of SB389, the omnibus higher education bill for 2007. Lawmakers debated concepts in the bill for more than a year before passing it in early May and sending it to the governor, who is expected to sign it in ceremonies across the state in the coming days. [Read more…]
Veterinary students to see expanded loan forgiveness program
Lawmakers adopted SB320, which expands and improves the Large Animal Veterinary Medicine Loan Forgiveness Program for the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Missouri-Columbia. The legislation transfers the existing program to the Department of Agriculture, increases the amount of the loan to $20,000 per year and establishes a ceiling of $80,000 over a four-year period. Under the plan, an advisory panel will select six students from each entering class who plan to go into large animal medicine and provide up to $20,000 per year to each of them. The loans are renewable for up to four years as long as the students meet minimum requirements. Once students graduate and enter practice in large animal medicine in the state, the program will forgive up to 25 percent of the loan per year over a four-year period.
Plan to provide tuition waiver for combat veterans stalls
A bill that would have required institutions to waive 75 percent of tuition costs for veterans who have served in combat since Sept. 11, 2001, passed the Senate but failed to make it to the House floor before the end of session. SB75 did not include a funding source, so institutions would have been required to absorb the full cost. University representatives testified on the bill and encouraged lawmakers to have the program operate through the Department of Higher Education and make it subject to state appropriations so that institutions were not left with the total cost.
Senate fails to take up intellectual diversity bill as session ends
A proposal to require institutions to report annually on steps taken to ensure intellectual diversity passed the House of Representatives this year but stalled in the Senate as the session ended and was not passed. The original version of HB213 was named for Emily Brooker, a student at Missouri State University who filed suit against the institution alleging that her constitutional rights were violated by a course requirement and subsequent retribution by faculty in the social work program. MSU settled out of court, but the controversy ignited interest in the topic and resulted in a bill that included a long list of examples institutions could include in an annual report. The Senate Education Committee reworked the proposal in a Senate Committee Substitute that removed the examples and references to intellectual diversity and only required one report on policies related to academic freedom. The committee reported the bill out, but it was never taken up by the full Senate in the final days of session.
MO HealthNet bill passes on last day of session
Overview of health-related legislation passed by General Assembly
The 2007 legislative session closed with the passage of a number of health care-related bills, including the MO HealthNet bill to reform Medicaid, SB577. These bills now await the governor´s signature or veto. If the governor chooses not to veto or sign the bills by July 14, 2007, they will automatically become law as of Aug. 28, 2007. [Read more…]