The House Higher Education Committee conducted a hearing February 8th on HB 174 , a bill sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville). Due to the 2010 Census, Missouri will be dropping from 9 to 8 congressional districts a statutory change is needed.
HB 174  would allow “at least one but no more than two” board appointments from each congressional district. The bill, which was supported through a motion approved in January by the Board of Curators , would make this change and also add similar wording for the governing board of Missouri State University and the state’s Coordinating Board for Higher Education. The University of Missouri and Missouri State University provided testimony in support of the bill. The only opposition came from the Associated Students of the University of Missouri, who prefer a plan to make the ninth curator a voting student. The committee is expected to vote on the bill during its next meeting.
MU Extension shows impact of work in west-central Missouri region
Representatives of MU Extension and its west-central Missouri region came to Jefferson City February 8 to provide a showcase of programs provided in that area of the state. Legislators and staff from the region were invited to meet Extension leaders and hear progress reports over lunch about various programs in place including 4-H Youth Development, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Business Development, Community Development, and Human Environmental Sciences.
Several senators and representatives were on hand to ask questions and hear the latest on the programs. For more information, go to www.extension.missouri/wcregion 
UMSL professors provide data to Urban Issues Committee
The House Urban Issues Committee held an informational hearing on February 7th to gather input on urban crime trends from law enforcement officials and experts, including two faculty members from the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
UMSL professors Dr. Richard Rosenfeld, Curators Professor of Criminology, and Dr. Beth Huebner, Associate Professor of Criminology, provided the committee with a summary of urban crime statistics in St. Louis and Kansas City and engaged in a discussion with legislators about the causes of urban crime and steps lawmakers might consider to further lower the numbers.
MO Treasurer holds press conference at UMKC to announce cost reduction in Missouri college savings plan
State Treasurer Clint Zweifel visited the University of Missouri-Kansas City on Feb. 8, 2011 to announce Missouri’s college savings plan is now the 5th lowest cost plan in the nation. A new five-year management agreement with Upromise Investments slashes costs of the do-it-yourself MOST  529 Plan by 44 percent.
The announcement also included a $500,000 financial assistance package agreement with Upromise for families who invest in the MOST savings program. Standing with UMKC Chancellor Leo Morton, Vice Chancellor Mel Tyler, students and Upromise and Vanguard representatives, Treasurer Zweifel said the public-private partnership is estimated to save investors $18.5 million. Zweifel anticipates Missourians will save millions of dollars.
Federal Relations Update
U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) announced on February 1st that he would impose a two-year earmark moratorium on all spending projects. This comes after U.S. House Republicans have vowed to also ban earmarks.
In addition, Representative Lynn Jenkins (R-Kansas) has introduced H.R. 529, which would amend the IRS code relating to 529 savings plans to treat computer technology and equipment as eligible expenses for 529 higher education plans. The bill has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee.
The U.S. House is likely to debate spending cuts for fiscal year 2011 next week, but House Republicans have stated they would not cut the Pell Grant funding for the current fiscal year.
Southeast Missouri legislator proud of MU professional degree recipients in the region
To say a town of 3,200 residents in rural Missouri has produced nine doctors with MU degrees in the past 30 years is unusual enough. When you also consider that all nine doctors graduated from the same high school and worked at the same grocery store, it is amazing.
Rep. Steve Hodges (D-East Prairie), who himself is an MU graduate, recently prepared a framed wall hanging featuring the photos and information on the nine doctors who all graduated from East Prairie High School and also worked for Hodges while he owned and managed the Tru Valu IGA in East Prairie. Hodges was associated with the store for more than 30 years, during which time he employed more than 500 high school students.
“Many of them went on to Mizzou,” Hodges said. “Our old high school has now become a school district museum, and when I was in there I visited a classroom dedicated to people involved in the medical profession. To my amazement, I realized there were several students I employed who had gone on to complete medical degrees and work in the profession. I figured we needed to provide more emphasis for that.”
Hodges went to work getting in touch with the nine students and secured photos and other information. He also learned of two additional doctors who also met the criteria – but didn’t work in his grocery store. He had the framed hanging completed and plans to loan it to the school museum – that is if he can ever finish showing it to all the interested colleagues in the Capitol who come by his office.
The nine doctors are Dr. David Brumley, Dr. Jeff Emory, Dr. Cully Bryant, Dr. Steven Douglas, Dr. Lee Belvin, Dr. Brent Mayabb, Dr. Sherri Jackson, Dr. Justin Bain, and Dr. Trevin Mayabb. Hodges has fond memories of working with the nine in the grocery store while they were in high school, although he declined to say which ones were the fastest checkers or best baggers.
“I would challenge any other town in the state to match me on this feat,” Hodges said.
Representative Steve Hodges holds his framed piece with pictures of the nine doctors, all MU medical school graduates, who worked at his grocery store when they were in high school.
February 17th: First UM Caucus Event for Legislators
February 24th: UM Legislative Day