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.

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