House Budget Committee approves higher education budget without health care education funding

The House Budget Committee, chaired by Rep. Allen Icet (R-Wildwood), continued its deliberations on higher education appropriations bill HB2003 this week. Budget Chair Allen Icet (R-Wildwood) recommended and the committee approved a 4 percent increase for the University of Missouri operating budget. Gov. Matt Blunt had previously recommended a 4.2 percent increase, or a difference of approximately $700,000.

The governor also had recommended $13.4 million to fund the Preparing to Care initiative, a collaboration between all of Missouri’s two- and four-year public institutions to educate more health care professionals to address health care shortages in the state. Rep. Ed Robb (R-Columbia) proposed an amendment during the committee hearing on Wednesday, March 12, to transfer $13.4 million from the Access Missouri scholarship program to Preparing to Care. The amendment failed, and the committee passed the budget on to the full House without including funding for Preparing to Care.

The bill should reach the House floor for debate after next week’s legislative spring break.

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Senate Appropriations reviews capital projects

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), reviewed the governor’s capital appropriations recommendations this week. The committee heard testimony regarding $750,000 for planning an addition to the UMKC Dental School, $5 million for partial funding of the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders at MU, and $600,000 for planning a new facility for the State Historical Society, currently housed in MU’s Ellis Library.

All initial appropriations bills must be introduced in the House. The House leadership will make their recommendations public soon, and a bill should be made public after the legislative spring break. Operating and capital appropriations bills must be approved by the General Assembly by Friday,  May  9.

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Legislative spring break begins

UM Legislative Update will not publish an e-newsletter next week due to legislative spring break, which began upon adjournment on Thursday, March 13. The General Assembly will reconvene on Tuesday, March 25, and Tuesday, April 1, is the last day for introduction of bills. Session ends Friday, May 16, with adjournment by Constitution on Friday, May 30.

House approves immigration enrollment legislation

Public colleges and universities in Missouri will be required to certify annually that they have not knowingly enrolled illegal aliens in the previous year under a measure approved by the House. HB1463, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone), had several hours of debate before being perfected Wednesday, March 12, after members of the majority party called the previous question. The bill was third read and passed on Thursday, March 13, by a 112-39 vote.

Early versions of the bill would have required institutions to check the residency status of every student who applied, a difficult task since many students who apply never attend the institution. Later versions changed “applied” to “enrolled,” which is easier for institutions to verify since students physically show up to enroll and documentation can be checked at that time.

Several amendments were offered during floor debate, but none were passed and most were ruled out of order. A similar measure is being considered in the Senate.

Higher Education Committee passes textbook transparency bill

The House Higher Education Committee has approved a committee substitute for HB2048, the Textbook Transparency Act. Sponsored by Rep. Jake Zimmerman (D-Olivette), the bill requires textbook publishers to make the price, any substantial content revisions between the last two editions, copyright dates, and the variety of formats for text available, upon request, to faculty members or textbook adopters at public higher education institutions. Publishers also are required to make a textbook and supplemental material available separately when selling the materials bundled together. Institutions would be required to develop policies allowing students to use financial aid that has not been disbursed for tuition or fees to purchase textbooks at campus bookstores. The bill, which was adopted 8-0 by the committee, was passed as a “consent” bill, which puts it in an easier category for House approval.

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Gov. Blunt and Chancellor Carney
Missouri S&T Chancellor Jack Carney speaks at the HB2020 bill signing with Gov. Matt Blunt in the background.
Governor signs bill for cooperative engineering program at Missouri S&T

Gov. Matt Blunt visited the Havener Center at the Missouri University of Science and Technology on Thursday, March 13, for a ceremonial signing of HB2020, which includes start-up funding for Missouri S&T’s cooperative engineering program with Missouri State University. The bill contains $500,000 for each institution for startup costs and renovations that are necessary before the program starts in the fall, when approximately 40 students at MSU plan to begin class work. “With this legislation we are helping start what I believe will be an enormously successful partnership between MSU and Missouri S&T,” Blunt said. “The joint engineering program created by this partnership and the funding we are providing to get it off the ground will help prepare the future leaders of tomorrow.”

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President Forsee visits with lawmakers on Capitol Hill

University of Missouri President Gary Forsee was on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., this week to meet with members of Missouri’s Congressional delegation. Forsee discussed the University’s federal priorities and his role as the new University president. He also thanked the lawmakers for their support and offered assistance to delegation members on higher education issues. Forsee visited with U.S. Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) as well as U.S. Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Russ Carnahan (D-MO), Lacy Clay (D-MO), Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), Sam Graves (R-MO), Kenny Hulshof (R-MO) and Ike Skelton (D-MO).

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