April 18, 2008

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Senate approves higher education appropriation bill

The Senate passed HB2003, the higher education operating budget, on Wednesday that includes a 4.2 percent increase for the University of Missouri System. There were no changes during debate on the floor. The funding bill will next go to a conference committee where differences between the House and Senate are ironed out. Conference activity on the budget bills is expected to begin as early as next week.

The University of Missouri System is recommended for an increase of 4.2 percent, or $18,099,346. An additional $2.44 million will be added for the identified funding gap at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.

Other related items receiving an increase include Telehealth for $437,640 and the State Historical Society for $100,000. All budget bills must be approved by the General Assembly by Friday, May 9.

Ag Committee members learn impact of extension program

Dr. David Patterson, state extension beef specialist and animal science professor, discusses Show-Me Select during MU Extension’s replacement heifer program.

Ten members of House and Senate agriculture-related committees heard presentations April 15 about the economic impact of MU Extension’s Show-Me-Select Replacement Heifer Program.

Dr. David Patterson, state extension beef specialist and animal science professor, said Show-Me Select is the first statewide, on-farm beef heifer development and marketing program in the nation. Since the program began in 1997, 640 farms have enrolled heifers to improve genetic traits and profitability through estrous synchronization and artificial insemination. Resulting sales of animals have generated $20.7 million in gross sales. The economic impact on Missouri’s economy exceeds $3.5 million annually.

House approves resolution supporting international education

A resolution emphasizing the importance of international education in Missouri was adopted by the Missouri House of Representatives April 16. HCR7, sponsored by Rep. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), was introduced to remind lawmakers and citizens that Missouri’s international student population provides many positive attributes to higher education. Several University of Missouri students attended a hearing before the House Higher Education Committee earlier in the session to support the measure.

Senate panel agrees to small change in House immigration bill

A bill requiring higher education institutions to certify they did not knowingly enroll undocumented aliens was considered before the Senate Pensions, Veteran’s and General Laws Committee April 16. HB1463, sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) was changed in committee so that higher education institutions provide certification to the state Department of Higher Education as opposed to committees of the General Assembly as in the original version. The University of Missouri sought the change. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

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2007 Farm Bill extended; House passes student loan act

This week, Congress passed HR5813, which is a one-week extension to HR2419, the 2007 Farm Bill. The bill is now in conference, where details on the law that includes vital university programs are being worked out. Missouri Congressman Sam Graves, an MU alum, is among the conferees working on the bill.

Also this week, the House of Representatives passed HR5715, the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act of 2008, which would increase the availability of funds for student loans for all students. With the current credit crunch, money available for student loans is rapidly disappearing. This bill would increase the annual loan limits on federal unsubsidized student loans by $2,000 for all students and increase the total loan limit over the course of a student’s education to $31,000 for dependent undergraduates and $57,500 for independent undergraduates. The measure would give the secretary of education the temporary authority to purchase loans from lenders in the federal guaranteed loan program if there was a determination that lenders and other existing policy options were unable to meet the demand for loans. This would ensure that lenders continue to have access to capital to originate new loans. The Department of Education would only be authorized to purchase loans so there would be no additional cost for the federal government.

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