Jan. 9, 2009

A publication of the University of Missouri Office of Government Relations

Legislative Update

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2009 legislative session begins

The 95th General Assembly is off and running. In the House of Representatives, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan presided over the swearing in of 163 members Wednesday, including 45 members who will be starting their first full term. House members elected Rep. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) as speaker and Rep. Bryan Pratt (R-Blue Springs) as speaker pro tem.

Richard noted the importance of higher education in his opening address, saying "Our universities and community colleges are a vital part of the plan that will develop our workforce and draw new business to our state. Even in a difficult budget year, we are willing and ready to work with them to ensure a quality education that results in future success."

During the address and in the post-session press conference, Richard and other Republican leaders underscored the importance of creating jobs, cutting property taxes and taking additional steps to stimulate the economy and improve the delivery of health care to Missourians. Democratic leaders reviewed priorities during a post-session press conference as well, citing economic development, health care and education as key priorities.

The Missouri Senate began its opening day by electing Sen. Charlie Shields (R-St. Joseph) as its new president pro tem. In his speech, Shields discussed the need for the Senate to address three main issues: Missouri jobs and support for businesses, bringing health coverage to more individuals, and building an educated workforce. In a press conference later that day, Shields, along with Sens. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) and Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) discussed the need for more coordination of higher education institutions and providing the Coordinating Board for Higher Education the resources needed to govern effectively.

University of Missouri President Gary Forsee encouraged Missouri's elected officials to continue to think of public higher education as a key to solving the state's - and nation's - economic crisis. "I encourage all legislators to fully consider the important role public higher education plays in our state, including cultivating an educated workforce and driving economic development through research and entrepreneurial programs."

To read more about House and Senate activities, visit the House and Senate Web sites.

For more photos of the start of the 2009 legislative session, click here.

Bond announces his retirement

U.S. Sen. Kit Bond announced before the Missouri House of Representatives Thursday that he will retire at the end of his current term in January 2011.

During his speech, Bond said that in 1982, University of Missouri President Jim Olson came to him and requested $1 million for the interdisciplinary Food for the 21st Century program. The General Assembly passed the funding at his urging, and from that small pilot program, biotech research has grown from a few small labs to many of our largest and most respected institutions throughout the state. Bond said he would like to see Missouri become the biotechnology and life sciences alley of the 21st century. "You and I need to keep supporting this area," he told House members.

Bond later spoke with reporters after his address and invited several individuals to speak, including UM President Gary Forsee, who praised Bond's efforts to support the life sciences and research at the University of Missouri.

"Sen. Bond has been a champion supporting science and biotechnology in our state and nation, and his efforts have resulted in many successful programs at the University of Missouri," Forsee said. "From the Food for the 21st Century Program, to research in such areas as agriculture, agroforestry, animal and plant sciences and medicine, to the Bond Life Sciences Center in Columbia that bears his name, he has been a visionary leader for our university, our state and nation."

For more information on Bond's announcement, click here.

Luetkemeyer tours MU campus

U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth) met with University of Missouri-Columbia leaders and toured areas of campus Dec. 22 as he was preparing to be sworn in as the 9th district congressman. Luetkemeyer met with members of the chancellor's staff and deans and visited the College of Engineering, School of Journalism, Bond Life Sciences Center, University of Missouri Hospitals and Clinics, the MU School of Medicine and the MU Research Reactor.

Nixon delivers online commencement address

Missouri Governor-Elect Jay Nixon taped an online commencement speech for University of Missouri Extension's 2008 online commencement in December. In the speech, Nixon praised the hard work of the graduates and noted the foresight of the University of Missouri in making distance learning a viable option for today's students.

To view the address or read the speech, click here.

2009 District Data Sheets available

The University of Missouri's 2009 District Data Sheets are now available.

Information is customized to show the impact of the University of Missouri on each congressional district, county, and state House and Senate district in Missouri, and there is a comprehensive statewide report, as well. Information includes such things as University of Missouri students, select alumni, and employees from a specific district, in addition to UM services received by persons living within the district. Economic development and research funding highlights are also featured.

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