University of Missouri capital projects approved by Senate Appropriations

University of Missouri President Designate Gary Forsee speaks to legislators and community leaders at The Missouri 100 reception in Jefferson City.

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), gave final approval to two capital bills this week. The committee unanimously approved HB2019, a supplemental appropriations bill which contains $31.1 million for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at MU and $15 million for completion of the Pharmacy and Nursing Building at UMKC, on Thursday, Feb. 14. Both buildings are the University of Missouri’s two remaining Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative projects.

The committee also approved HB2020, which appropriates $500,000 to the Missouri University of Science and Technology for the capital costs associated with the start of its cooperative engineering program, to begin next fall, with Missouri State University. Senate floor action is anticipated next week.

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House Higher Education Appropriations continues work on budget

The House Higher Education Appropriations Committee moved closer to making their final budget recommendations this week. Rep. Kathlyn Fares (R-Webster Groves) will make a report to House Budget Chair Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) late next week. The committee’s priorities include the University of Missouri core budget recommendation increase of 4.2 percent and the $13.4 million recommended by Gov. Matt Blunt for Preparing to Care, a collaboration between all of the state’s two- and four-year public higher education institutions to educate health care professionals to address shortages in the state.

Senate perfects bill to require a partial tuition waiver for combat veterans

The Senate debated and perfected SB830 on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The legislation would limit the tuition charged to combat veterans to $50 per credit hour for undergraduate course work at public institutions. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Maida Coleman (D-St. Louis), originally included graduate and professional courses but was modified in committee to limit it to undergraduate courses and to require that other financial aid – federal and state – be applied before the waiver is calculated. The changes had been sought by the University during committee debate on the bill.

Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) offered an amendment on the floor that would have made the waiver subject to appropriations from the state, but after debate and the objection of some senators the amendment was withdrawn and the committee version of the bill was perfected. It awaits a final vote in the Senate before being sent to the House for consideration. A similar bill in the House, HB1307, has yet to be heard.

Senate Education Committee hears bill to add voting student curator

One of the nine members of the University of Missouri Board of Curators would be a full-time student with a vote under a proposal heard Wednesday, Feb. 13, before the Senate Education Committee. SB873, sponsored by Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia), would replace one of the curators only if the state is reduced from the current nine congressional districts to eight congressional districts after the next census. Current law requires that there be no more than one curator from each congressional district, but Graham’s substitute bill presented to the committee would allow the student curator to be from any congressional district. The latest version of the bill also removes the student curator from votes on personnel matters related to faculty or staff, although the student would have a vote on the decision to hire a president. Witnesses testifying in support of the bill included Tony Luetkemeyer, student representative to the Board of Curators, and Ally Walker with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri. The committee took no action on the bill.

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Legislators learn about Extension ExCEED program
Rep. Belinda Harris with Sharon Gulick and Terry Hackney of MU Extension.
Rep. Belinda Harris with Sharon Gulick and Terry Hackney of MU Extension.

When 17-year-old entrepreneur Kaitlyn Reichert of Brunswick described her business as a cheesecake baker and distributor, legislators listened with interest. Reichert and her mother, Tina, accompanied Sharon Gulick and Terry Hackney, director and Extension associate with the MU Extension Community Economic and Entrepreneurial Development program, as they visited the Capitol to inform legislators about ExCEED activities in their districts. ExCEED currently coordinates 11 regional projects that assist residents in identifying regional community economic development assets and then brings University and other partners’ resources to help local entrepreneurs – including youth – succeed. Sample cheesecakes were left with the legislators, along with program materials.  

Gulick also testified before the House Special Committee on Rural Community Development, chaired by Rep. Larry Wilson (R-Flemington).

Legislators who received visits included Sen. Delbert Scott (R-Lowry City); Rep. Tom Self (R-Cole Camp); Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville); Rep. Belinda Harris (D-Hillsboro); Sen. Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield); Rep. Steve Tilley (R-Perryville); Rep. Brian Munzlinger (R-Williamstown); Sen. Bill Stouffer (R-Napton); Rep. Scott Lipke (R-Jackson); Rep. Mark Bruns (R-Jefferson City) and Rep. Tom Loehner (R-Koeltztown).