Legislators participate in MU Greenley Research Center Field Day
Several lawmakers participated in the annual Field Day at MU’s Greenley Research Center in Novelty, Mo., on Tuesday, Aug. 2. Sen. Wes Shoemyer (D-Clarence), Rep. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown), Rep. Rebecca McClanahan (D-Kirksville), Rep. Tom Shively (D-Shelbyville), Rep. Paul Quinn (D-Monroe City) and Rep. Jim Whorton (D-Trenton) were on hand for the visits to field research demonstrations and to take part in a luncheon that featured Missouri Director of Agriculture Katie Smith.
Governor calls special session to begin Aug. 20
Gov. Matt Blunt announced a special session of the Missouri General Assembly to begin Monday, Aug. 20. The primary focus will be consideration of a new version of the economic development bill that was vetoed by the governor earlier this summer due to its high fiscal note. A new bill with lower costs has been hammered out by House and Senate leaders. In addition, lawmakers will discuss the state’s significant bridge repair and replacement needs, as well as how to pay for them. This issue was highlighted with the recent bridge collapse in Minnesota.
Leadership changes in House & Senate
The summer continues to see changes in the leadership makeup of both the House and the Senate. In the House, Speaker Pro Tem Carl Bearden (R-St. Charles) stepped down from his seat effective Thursday, July 12 to join a startup firm called Pelopidas LLC. House Minority Leader Jeff Harris (D-Columbia) resigned his leadership position to spend more time on his campaign for attorney general. Harris will be replaced by Rep. Paul LeVota (D-Independence) as minority leader. There may be additional changes in the House pending special elections, as Rep. Nathan Cooper (R-Cape Giradeau) resigned, effective Tuesday, Aug. 14, and Majority Floor Leader Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) is running for a Senate seat vacated by Chuck Gross. On the Senate side, Sen. Chris Koster of Harrisonville announced Wednesday, Aug. 1 that he is switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat, thus leaving his leadership post as assistant majority floor leader.
Higher education leaders meet to discuss coming legislative session
Representatives of the Council on Public Higher Education (COPHE), an organization that includes the presidents and chancellors of all the state’s public four-year higher education institutions, met at the University of Missouri-Columbia on Wednesday, Aug. 15 to discuss issues in the coming year and hear from Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), chair of the House Higher Education Committee. COPHE plans to develop a common legislative agenda that includes operating appropriations, capital improvements, and a health care education initiative later this fall in preparation for the 2008 legislative session. Kingery told the group that he wanted to get operating funding levels back to the high water mark “as soon as possible” and that the state needed to do its part to help colleges and universities meet the growing needs for education, research, service and economic development for the state.
The COPHE group also heard an update on ongoing deliberations related to a new funding formula for public institutions. A COPHE working group representing all of the institutions has been meeting through the summer to look at various models from other states and to develop information that will be of use as the Department of Higher Education’s task force works on the funding formula issue in the coming year.
Governor pledges support for large animal veterinary medicine loan program
Gov. Matt Blunt demonstrated his continued support for veterinary medicine Thursday, Aug. 16 when he announced he will recommend $480,000 in funding to support the large animal veterinary medicine loan forgiveness program. Blunt made the announcement during a visit to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia. Earlier this summer, the governor signed SB320, which expanded and improved the state’s large animal veterinary medicine loan repayment program. The bill, which was promoted by University of Missouri leaders to support increasing the number of large animal veterinary medicine students at MU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, will provide up to $80,000 per year in loans to six students. After graduation, the program will forgive a portion of the loans for each year the student stays in the state and practices large animal medicine.
President Lamb, Chancellor Deaton attend Missouri State Fair ham breakfast
University of Missouri Interim President Gordon Lamb and University of Missouri-Columbia Chancellor Brady Deaton attended the annual Missouri State Fair ham breakfast in Sedalia on Thursday, Aug. 16. See more photos of the president and chancellor with elected officials at the event…
Curators approve FY09 operating, capital appropriations requests
The University of Missouri Board of Curators approved the fiscal year 2009 operating and capital appropriations requests at its Friday, July 27 meeting in Marceline, Mo. The University’s first priority in the FY09 request for operations is the funding of its FY08 core state appropriation of $418 million. The request also includes a total new investment plan of $88 million. The state capital appropriations request of approximately $369 million for FY09, with rehabilitation and new construction projects at each campus, also was approved by the board.
Sen. Kit Bond visits Mason Eye Institute
On Tuesday, July 3, U.S. Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) visited University of Missouri Health Care’s Mason Eye Institute for a tour with Dr. John Cowden, chair of the department of ophthalmology, and Dr. Dan Schoenleber, clinical director. Bond then held a press conference and discussion about the federal Vision Care for Kids Act (S.1117) that he is sponsoring with Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT). The act would establish a grant program to compliment and encourage existing state efforts to improve children’s vision care. Grant funds could be used to provide comprehensive eye exams to children, treat or correct vision problems identified during the exam, and develop and distribute educational materials about the signs of visual impairment in children. The federal effort would complement a bill recently passed by the Missouri General Assembly, SB16, which requires that every child enrolling in kindergarten or first grade receives a comprehensive vision exam performed by a state licensed optometrist or physician. The Mason Eye Institute at University Hospital provides a wide range of ophthalmology services, including approximately 29,000 patient visits last year alone.
Elected officials attend ribbon cutting for cyclotron, research reactor addition at MU
Rep. Gayle Kingery (R-Poplar Bluff), Rep. Judy Baker (D-Columbia), Missouri Department of Economic Development Director Greg Steinhoff, University of Missouri Interim President Gordon Lamb, and UM Curator Bo Fraser were among those who attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new cyclotron and addition to the MU Research Reactor on Wednesday, Aug. 15. The new addition will house offices and laboratory space for reactor personnel and a cyclotron, a machine that produces isotopes that will be used to diagnose medical problems such as cancer and heart disease. Attendees also went on tours of the new facility, which will be run by a partnership between MU and Mid-America Cyclotron.
KCSource Link at UMKC receives national recognition for economic development
KCSourceLink received national recognition for its contribution to economic development in the Kansas City region on Monday, Aug. 13 when it received the U.S. Department of Commerce’s 2007 Excellence in Economic Development Award for Enhancing Regional Competitiveness. KCSourceLink is part of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the UMKC Henry W. Bloch School for Business and Public Administration. The program connects more than 140 business building non-profit resources to small businesses in the 18-county region. The event, which was hosted by the Stowers Institute, included remarks from guest speaker Congressman Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), who is co-sponsor with Congressman Dennis Moore of the pilot project “Vet Link – Providing the Right Services to Veterans at the Right Time.” The project to connect veterans to the resources they need will use the same SourceLink model. Vet Link was approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in June. If approved by the Senate, the Vet Link KC-area pilot project will be administered by the Bloch School at UMKC through KCSourceLink.
The U.S. Congress has adjourned for the August recess but not before passing several pieces of legislation in the summer months aimed at higher education. Both the House and Senate passed reconciliation bills that include deficit reductions and that would cut lender subsidies to bolster student aid. The Senate also passed S.1642, which is their version of the Higher Education Act (HEA) Reauthorization. Among other provisions, S.1642 would increase the amount of information that schools and lenders must provide to students and ban lenders from giving schools financial aid funds or any other perks to get on a preferred lender list. It also would direct the U.S. Secretary of Education to assess costs that drive tuition increases and examine ways to contain costs and track pricing trends. The House has not yet passed their version of the HEA reauthorization; instead, House members passed a continuation of the extension until Oct. 31 to prevent the current HEA provisions from expiring. In addition to conferencing the reconciliation bills when Congress returns in September, legislators also will have to finish the 12 appropriations bills to send to the President.