April 29, 2011

House and Senate negotiators begin discussing budget next week

House and Senate Conference Committees on the Appropriations bills were appointed this week.  For HB 3, the higher education appropriations bill, Senate conferees are: Sens. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville), David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Tim Green (D-St. Louis), and Shalonn “Kiki” Curls (D-Kansas City).  The House conferees on HB 3 are: Reps. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood), Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage), and Sara Lampe (D-Springfield).  The committee is scheduled to meet on Monday, May 2nd to negotiate the differences between versions of the bill.  All appropriations bills must be truly agreed to and finally passed by 6:00 p.m. on May 6th.   

Senate passes legislation including MOSIRA provisions

After hours of debate on April 27th, the Senate approved HB 116, handled by Sen. Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield), which modifies a number of laws regarding the collection of moneys owed to the state.  During debate, Sen. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) offered an amendment to add the provisions of the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, or MOSIRA. The Senate adopted this amendment after adding a clarification offered by Sen. Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) subjecting MOSIRA to appropriations. The University of Missouri supports the passage of MOSIRA, as it will encourage the development and growth of science and technology businesses in the state.  

A number of other provisions regarding tax credit reform were included in HB 116, some of which were recommended by Missouri’s Tax Credit Review Commission late last year. The bill also includes “Compete Missouri” job creation provisions and authorization for the Aerotropolis Trade Incentive and Tax Credit Act, which would allow incentives to help attract a Chinese freight hub to St. Louis. The bill must receive one more vote in the Senate before moving back to the House, where it could receive a final vote or could move to a conference committee that will negotiate the differences.

Curator nominee to have hearing before Gubernatorial Appointments committee

On May 4, nominee Don Cupps is scheduled to appear before the Senate Gubernatorial Appointments committee. Cupps was nominated on January 26 by Governor Jay Nixon to replace outgoing Curator John Carnahan on the University of Missouri Board of Curators. After the scheduled hearing on May 4, Cupps will need full Senate approval before beginning his service on the Board of Curators. The other nominee, Craig Van Matre, is still awaiting confirmation. 

Limited dental license bill heard before Senate committee

HB 591, which would create a limited dental teaching license for dentists at UMKC’s School of Dentistry who have received their dental degrees outside the U.S., was heard Tuesday before the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations Committee. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Donna Lichtenegger (R-Jackson) and was passed earlier this month by the House. 

UMKC Dental School Dean Marsha Pyle testified in support of the bill before the committee and answered questions. The concept was brought forward by the dean as an answer to a continuing challenge to fill dental teaching slots at the School.  UMKC is not able to offer competitive salaries to attract dentists who can otherwise work in more lucrative private practices. This bill would allow the school to hire dentists who pass all exams and tests even if they received a dental degree from another country. An amendment to the bill will require that they demonstrate proficiency in both written and spoken English. The committee is expected to vote on the measure Monday.  It will still need approval by the full Senate, and one final vote of the bill in identical form in the House.

House, Senate send Congressional redistricting map to Governor

On April 27, House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement to redraw Missouri’s Congressional districts. Due to the results from the 2010 Census, Missouri is slated to lose one of its nine Congressional districts. The Missouri General Assembly is tasked with redrawing the Congressional lines to reflect eight districts.

The House passed a compromise version of the map by a vote of 96-55, and the Senate passed the same version 27-7. The bill, HB 193, was delivered to the Governor on April 27, where he has 15 days to sign or veto it. If he vetoes the bill, the General Assembly can attempt to override the veto before the end of the legislative session on May 13. If lawmakers are unable to override a veto, a federal court would be responsible for drawing Missouri’s new eight Congressional districts. Below is the map that was agreed upon by lawmakers, but to see specifically where the lines are, refer to the Missouri House of Representatives’ map.

MU Extension delegation visits with Missouri’s D.C. delegation

Five regional faculty members, two extension council volunteers and several 4-H’ers visited with Missouri’s U.S. Senators and Congressional members in Washington, D.C., on April 6, as part of the National Extension Leadership Development conference, sponsored by the national extension professional associations.

The emphasis at the conference was on public issue framing, federal program priorities, budget process, and support of land-grant and extension programs through the USDA budget.  Participants met with the National Association of Counties staff and  visited with officials at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

Above (left to right): Amie Schleicher, Northwest Region livestock specialist; Teresa Bishop, MU 4-H Center youth program coordinator; Tish Johnson, East Central community development specialist; Kay Sparks, Central Missouri 4-H youth specialist; Andrew Fisher, Pike County 4-H member; Senator Claire McCaskill; Lorna Dreyer, Warren County 4-H member; John Grissom, Chair of the St. Louis County Extension Council; and Dave Baker, Assistant Dean, CAFNR

Legislators honored by University of Missouri’s Graduate-Professional Council

In honor of graduate education week last week, the University of Missouri’s Graduate-Professional Council honored several state legislators who have been strong supporters of graduate education. The students hosted a reception for the honorees on the MU campus  April 21.  This year’s honorees included Senator Maria Chapelle-Nadal (D-St. Louis), Senator Dan Brown (R-Rolla), Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville),  Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), Rep. Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City), Rep. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur), and Rep. Ray Weter (R-Nixa).

April 22, 2011

Budget bills pass the Senate and move to conference

The 13 appropriations bills for FY 2012 were passed by the Senate this week.  Senate Appropriations committee chair, Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) presented the bills, including HB 3, the higher education appropriations bill.  No changes were made on the Senate floor and the bill will now move to a conference committee to negotiate the differences between the two chambers. Notable differences include the following:

  • The House passed a 7 percent cut to the core budgets of higher education institutions. The Senate added $20 million, which would reduce the overall cut to 4.8 percent. 
  • The House included a $12 million appropriation for “Preparing to Care”, which would create a competitive grant program for health professional programs at higher education institutions. The Senate removed these funds.
  • The House passed a $2 million appropriation for a joint pharmacy program at UMKC and Missouri State University. The Senate removed this line item.

The bills are on track to be approved by the constitutionally required date, which is one week before the legislative session adjourns. This year the bills must be passed by May 6th.    

House and Senate continue work on redrawing Congressional boundaries

With three weeks remaining in the legislative session, House and Senate leaders continue to negotiate where Missouri’s Congressional lines should be drawn. On April 18, House and Senate leadership met with Congressional members to discuss the maps passed by each chamber. As of April 22, the two sides had yet to agree on a map. 

The House and Senate voted on April 20 to send HB 193 to a conference committee. Because Missouri’s population growth between 2000-2010 was slower than other states, Missouri is due to lose one of its current nine Congressional districts. The Missouri General Assembly is tasked with passing new Congressional boundaries to reflect eight Congressional districts from the current nine.

House and Senate negotiators met multiple times during the day and night of April 21, but did not reach an agreement. The two sides were hoping for an agreement by April 22 to allow for an override attempt in the event that the governor vetoes their plan.

UMSL hosts legislators during Alumni Weekend

Representatives Churie Spreng (D-Florissant) and Clem Smith (D-St. Louis) attended the University of Missouri-St. Louis Dinner with 12 Strangers, for alumni and students, that was held as part of Alumni Weekend festivities.

Above from left to right: Karen Pierre, Manager, UMSL Community & Alumni Relations; Representative Churie Spreng (D-Florissant); and Celeste Marx, Manager, Alumni Relations for UMSL.

President Obama to appoint MU Chancellor Brady Deaton as chairman of a federal board

President Barack Obama has announced his intent to appoint Chancellor Brady J. Deaton to the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (BIFAD).  Dr. Deaton will continue in his leadership role as Chancellor at MU while serving the nation as chair of BIFAD. For more information, the White House announcement can be found here.

Federal Relations

U.S. Congress is in recess this and next week for the Jewish and Easter holidays. When Congress returns on May 2nd, extending the federal debt ceiling will be among the first items discussed.

President Obama has called for a new debt commission, led by Vice President Joe Biden. House and Senate leadership have begun naming their members of the commission. The first meeting for bipartisan discussions is scheduled for May 5.

April 15, 2011

FY 2012 budget ready for Senate floor debate

The Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), finished its work on the FY2012 budget this week.  The committee agreed to a $20 million increase in HB 3, the higher education appropriations bill, which would reduce the overall cut to core budgets from 7 percent to 4.8 percent.  The extra funds would be distributed among the 2-year and 4-year institutions in the same manner as the rest of the core appropriations. The increase was part of an agreement to give $20 million to higher education and $20 million to K-12 for transportation.  The committee decided to remove the $12 million appropriation for “Preparing to Care” and the $2 million appropriation for a joint pharmacy program at UMKC and Missouri State University.

The Senate is expected to take up the budget bills on the floor next week. After debate by the full Senate, a conference committee will negotiate differences between the House and Senate version of the bill.

Curator selection bill heads to the Governor’s desk

HB 174, which clarifies selection of curators in light of a loss of a congressional district, was approved this week by both the House and Senate and is on its way to the Governor’s desk for signature. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), the bill would specify that the Governor may appoint “at least one but no more than two” curators from each of the state’s remaining 8 Congressional districts following the loss of a congressional district due to the 2010 Census.  The overall Board size will remain at the constitutionally mandated nine members.

In the Senate, an amendment offered by Senator Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau) was added that clarified that board members currently serving terms at the time the law goes into effect on August 28 will be allowed to serve out the remainder of their terms regardless of geography.  The amendment, and bill, was approved by the Senate on April 12 and then agreed to by the House on April 14.

The legislation also applies to the governing board of Missouri State University and to the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.  A similar bill already passed by the Senate and sponsored by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) is expected to be taken up for consideration by the House as well and passed in identical form. That bill is SB 163.

House passes bill to allow for limited dental teaching license

The UMKC School of Dentistry has had a difficult time finding licensed dentists to practice in its dental teaching laboratory due to relatively low salaries that can be offered. However, Dean Marsha Pyle has noticed there are some willing dentists who are not able to be licensed to practice because they received their dental training outside of the United States. A bill to allow for limited licenses for such dentists was passed April 14 by the House of Representatives.

HB 591, sponsored by Rep. Donna Lichtenegger (R-Jackson) would permit the dental board to issue a limited teaching license only to such dentists who are employed as instructors at the School of Dentistry. The holder would have to pass all national and state licensure and competency exams and meet all other requirements for practicing dentists. The license would have to be renewed every two years.  The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Bill to authorize nursing grants, advanced placement grants passes House

On April 14, the House took up and passed the House Committee Substitute for HB 223 and HB 231, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau). The bill would allow the state Board of Nursing to grant up to $1 million per year for the next three years to institutions offering accredited nursing programs to increase the number of slots for students. The bill also would allow the Department of Higher Education to make available $500 advanced placement grants to students who receive Access Missouri or A+ scholarships and also receives two scores of three or higher on advanced placement exams in math and science while in a Missouri public high school.

The bill now goes to the Senate where it is expected to be taken up by the Senate Education committee. That panel has already heard similar proposals previously introduced in the Senate.

MU researchers win $14 million in grants from USDA

MU officials announced on April 15 the two grants from the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. MU is partnering with Texas A&M University to work to improve feed efficiency, which if not improved, can lead to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions additional land to produce feed. The researchers will in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources will also examine Bovine Respiratory Disease (BRD) and potentially reduced animal well being when using feedlots. For more information on the grant, see the MU News Bureau’s news release.

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From left to right: Dr. Tom Payne, CAFNR Vice Chancellor & Dean; Dr. Roger Beachy, Director of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture; Dr. Jerry Taylor, Professor & Wurdack Endowed Chair; Senator Roy Blunt; Dr. Marc Linit, CAFNR Associate Dean for Research; and Dr. Rod Geisert, CAFNR Animal Sciences Division Director.

Federal Relations

On April 14, the U.S. House and Senate passed HR 1473, funding the federal government through the end of FY2011 on September 30. The House passed the bill 260-167 and the Senate passed it by a vote of 81-19.

The next test for Congress on the budget front will be extending the federal debt ceiling, which is expected to be reached by May 16.

April 8, 2011

Senate committee reviews FY 2012 appropriations bills

This week, the Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), conducted its first review of the FY 2012 budget bills. In HB 3, the higher education appropriation bill, the committee has made its decision on recommendations for a number of items. However a few questions, including the core appropriations for all of the four-year institutions, remain open for discussion next week.

Next week, the Senate committee will conduct a final review and vote the bills out of committee. The FY12 budget must be passed by 6:00 p.m. on May 6th.

Curator selection bills both one step closer to passage

Bills to modify the process used to appoint curators after the state’s loss of a congressional district took more steps toward passage this week in both the House and the Senate.  TUpon redistricting, the bills would allow the governor to appoint “at least one but no more than two” curators from each of the state’s eight congressional districts, keeping the overall size of the board at nine, as defined in the constitution.

HB 174, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), has passed the House and was approved April 6 by the Senate Education Committee.  The bill is on the Third Read calendar in the Senate for one final vote.

SB 163, sponsored by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) already passed the Senate and was heard before the House higher education committee on April 5. It is expected to be voted on during an executive session of the committee April 12. From there, the bill will have to go through the House Rules committee before being placed on the House calendar for floor debate.

During the House Higher Education committee meeting April 5, lawmakers also heard testimony on three other bills related to curator selection. These included HB 243, sponsored by Rep. Mary Still, (D-Columbia); and HB 848, sponsored by Rep. Paul Fitzwater, (R-Potosi); both of which would make the ninth curator a voting student; and HB 494, sponsored by Rep. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur), that would add language that the Governor “may” appoint a student to the Board.  No vote was taken on any of those bills.

Senate confirms David Steward to the UM Board of Curators

On April 7, David Steward was confirmed as the newest member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators by the Missouri Senate. Steward is the chairman of World Wide Technologies, a leading provider of technology products, services, and supply chain solutions in both a national and international setting.

Steward’s confirmation hearing before the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee was on April 6. Steward will replace Curator Emeritus David Wasinger, representing Missouri’s 2nd Congressional district. Steward will begin serving on the Board of Curators immediately.

Former Senator Kit Bond among dignitaries on hand at MU to announce Confucius Institute

University of Missouri officials and dignitaries from China gathered in Columbia on April 8 to announce the opening of the Confucius Institute at MU.  The institute is a platform to promote greater understanding between Missouri and China through Chinese language teaching and learning, resident Chinese teacher preparation, Missouri-China business relationships, and research on issues of mutual interest.

Former U.S. Senator Kit Bond joined MU Chancellor Brady Deaton, Deputy Consul General Kun Lu, and Shanghai Normal University President Jin Li along with several other officials to launch the institute during a ceremony Friday afternoon.

For information, visit the MU Confucius Institute.

Karla May & Anne Deaton

Representative Karla May (right) (D-St. Louis) and Dr. Anne Deaton (left) visit during a breakfast hosted April 8 by Chancellor Deaton to celebrate the MU Confucius Institute. Other officials attending included Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) and David Kerr, Director of the Department of Economic Development.

Senate committee and the House pass Congressional redistricting legislation

As reflected in the 2010 Census, Missouri’s population growth rate from 2000-2010 will result in the loss of one of Missouri’s 9 Congressional districts. The legislature must develop a plan for how new district boundaries will be drawn and versions are making their way through the process. The Senate’s Congressional redistricting plan, SB 264, sponsored by Sen. Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville) passed the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting on April 4. Their version can be found here. The bill is awaiting floor debate.

The House gave final approval by a vote of 106-53 to their redistricting plan, HB 193, sponsored by Rep. John Diehl (R-Town & Country). House members rejected three attempts to change the new congressional districts from the committee-approved plan. The official map can be found here and a county-by-county map can be found here.

Federal relations

The U.S. House and Senate are attempting to come to a compromise on the rest of fiscal year 2011 spending. Thus far, they have passed 6 continuing resolutions to fund the federal government through the end of FY 2011, which ends on September 30.

The current continuing resolution is set to expire tonight, April 8, at midnight. If an agreement isn’t reached, a partial federal government shutdown will occur until an agreement or continuing resolution extension is passed. President Obama has met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) multiple times throughout the week to negotiate a compromise. The House has passed a week-long extension, while funding the Department of Defense through the end of the year. President Obama has threatened to veto this bill. The Senate is expected to vote on a week-long continuing resolution today.

The two sides have agreed to cut approximately $38 billion from the current budget, but they have not yet come to an agreement over federal dollars for Planned Parenthood, among other policy issues.

April 1, 2011

FY 2012 budget moves to the Senate

On March 28-29, the Missouri House passed all 13 bills outlining the proposed FY 2012 budget.  Relatively few changes were made on the floor as Representatives moved rapidly through the state department budgets.  In HB 3, the higher education appropriations bill, notable changes included an amendment introduced by Representative Caleb Jones (R-California) to return $2 million to the Missouri Kidney Program, restoring a cut that occurred in committee. The Preparing to Care program remains in the budget as well, receiving $12 million for competitive grants that would be awarded to health professional programs at higher education institutions. Also remaining is $2 million for a joint pharmacy program at Missouri State University and the University of Missouri-Kansas City. The bills now move to the Senate for hearings, likely beginning next week.

Curator selection bill heard before Senate panel

The House bill to revise the rules for appointing members of the University of Missouri Board of Curators in response to the loss of a congressional district was presented before the Senate Education Committee on March 30. HB 174, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville) would allow for “at least one but no more than two” curators appointed from each of the state’s eight congressional districts. Currently only one can be appointed, but since the Constitution defines the board as nine members and the state will only have eight districts after redistricting, a change is needed. The bill, which has already passed the House, also provides the same language for Missouri State University’s governing board as well as the Coordinating Board for Higher Education.

A similar bill, SB 163, sponsored by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) has passed the Senate and a hearing is scheduled for April 5 in the House Higher Education committee.

House committee hears proposal to bond higher education construction

A house joint resolution to place before voters an $800 million bond issue for capital improvements was heard Tuesday, March 29 before the House Higher Education Committee.  HJR 9, sponsored by Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), would place the measure before voters to be approved before any bonds would be sold. The proposal would fund top capital priorities at public colleges and universities across the state, as well as improvements at state parks.  The University of Missouri System was among those testifying in support of the bill. To see the testimony provided by Interim President Steve Owens, click here.  The committee took no action on the bill.

House redistricting committee unveils possible Missouri Congressional maps

The House Redistricting committee announced their plans on March 30 to redraw the Missouri Congressional districts and reduce the number from 9 to 8, as required by the 2010 census. Chairman John Diehl (R-Town and Country) is planning on having the Redistricting committee vote on the proposal next week. Their proposal can be obtained from the House website.

UMSL nursing dean presents at briefing in Washington D.C.

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On March 23rd Dr. Julie Sebastian, dean of the College of Nursing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, presented at a briefing held by the Health Professions and Nursing Education Coalition (HPNEC) in Washington D.C. Dr. Sebastian discussed the history and broad impact the Title VIII federal funding for scholarships and grants for nursing students. She also discussed the growth required for the nursing and health professions to keep up with society’s needs.