April 25, 2008

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Legislative Update

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University funding bills continue through legislature

The Missouri House of Representatives third read and passed HB2016
and HB2023. Both bills contain various projects for the University of Missouri. 

HB2016 is the reauthorization for the authority to appropriate money for capital improvements and other projects. Included in the bills are appropriations of $31.1 million for the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center in Columbia, $15 million for the Pharmacy and Nursing Building at UMKC and $500,000 for the Joint Engineering Program at Missouri S&T.

HB2023 appropriates money for planning, expenses, capital improvements, renovations and new designs. Included in this bill are $5 million for the Thompson Center for Autism at MU; $300,000 for planning and design for a new building for the Nursing and Optometry Schools at UMSL, $600,000 for the planning and design of the State Historical Society in Columbia, $300,000 for the planning and design of the Nursing and Health Professional Schools at MU, $2 million for planning and improvements at several of the university’s agricultural research facilities, and $500,000 for equipment for a business incubator in Columbia.  

HB2003, which contains the FY09 operating budget, is still in conference. All appropriations bills must be passed by May 9.

House committee hears student curator, foster tuition waiver legislation

The House Higher Education Committee conducted a hearing April 22 on SB873, a bill sponsored by Sen. Chuck Graham (D-Columbia) that would establish a voting student curator in the event the state goes from nine congressional districts to eight congressional districts after the next census.

Graham told the committee that several institutions already have voting students on their boards and that the latest version of the bill would exempt students from voting on personnel matters other than the hiring or firing of the president. Others testifying in support of the bill included Tony Leutkemeyer, current student representative to the board of curators, and Alley Walker, a student lobbyist with the Associated Students of the University of Missouri. The committee took no action on the bill.

Another bill by Rep. Rachel Bringer (D-Palmyra) would establish a tuition waiver for foster children who meet certain criteria and enter higher education. HB1604, which is subject to appropriation, would waive tuition and fees for eligible students who have been in foster or residential care and includes a requirement for 100 hours of community service or public internships. Students would have other aid for which they are eligible applied before the waiver would be considered. The committee did not act on the bill.

House passes military bill that includes grants for families of those killed in combat

An omnibus military benefits bill perfected by the House of Representatives April 22 includes a grant program for children or spouses of soldiers who have been killed in combat. HCS for HB2062 and 1518 handled by Rep. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) would establish 25 grants to cover tuition and fees subject to appropriations for eligible family members. The original legislation proposing the grant program was introduced by Rep. Mike Cunningham (R-Marshfield) the past two years and has been incorporated in the bill. The House third read and passed the bill April 24. The bill will now be passed on to the Senate.

Immigration bills get committee consideration

The two primary immigration bills that contain provisions related to higher education have passed their sponsoring chambers and were considered this week in committee in the opposite chamber. The Senate Pensions, Veteran’s Affairs and General Laws Committee adopted a committee substitute for HB1463 sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nolte (R-Gladstone) that contains language prohibiting the enrollment of undocumented aliens at public higher education institutions. Colleges and universities would have to certify to the state Department of Higher Education that they have not knowingly enrolled illegal aliens the previous year.

In the House Special Committee on Veterans, the Senate omnibus immigration bill, SB858, was heard April 23. A substitute version of the bill was adopted April 24, and the language in the bill related to higher education is similar to that of the House bill under consideration and reflects changes requested by the higher education community.

Senate passes Insure Missouri legislation

The Senate perfected SB1283, sponsored by Sen. Tom Dempsey (R-St. Charles) April 23. The bill is known as the Missouri Health Transformation Act and is one of the bills containing authorization of the Insure Missouri program.

A number of amendments were adopted on the floor, and the bill will soon move to the House where it is expected to be modified further. Major provisions of the bill include:

  • Creating a Missouri health cabinet and health policy council within the governor’s office
  • Pilot project opportunities regarding the uninsured for local community health coalitions
  • Criteria for health care transparency in pricing and quality services
  • Recognition of telehealth. By Jan. 1, 2009, the department must create quality control rules and reimburse for services in the same manner as they would reimburse for an office visit or consultation
  • Prescriptive authority for advanced practice nurses for schedule III, IV and V controlled substances
  • Requirement for hospitals to report adverse health events to a patient safety organization
  • Revisions to the MO HealthNet plan to include coverage of certain additional services; modification of the Oversight Committee membership
  • Establishment of the Insure Missouri program with a provision requiring the MO HealthNet division to take into consideration the special needs of Missouri’s Tier 1 Safety Net providers

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