April 25, 2014

State Issues

 

Budget bills on senate floor next week

 

The Senate Appropriations committee, chaired by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), finished work on the FY 2015 budget bills on April 23. The full Senate will debate the bills next week.  The committee made decisions on most of the issues within HB 2003, the higher education funding bill, the week of April 7, with the exception of a funding increase for the Bright Flight scholarship program.

 

Earlier in the year, the Governor recommended a $17 million increase to fund a plan to provide an annual forgivable loan “boost” to Bright Flight recipients who remain in the state upon graduation. The House voted to fund just the first year of the “boost” with a $7 million increase. This week, the Senate Appropriations committee opted to fully fund the existing Bright Flight program with a $5.3 million increase. Currently, recipients in the top three percent of a high school class are eligible for $3000 annual awards and students in the top four and five percent are eligible for $1000 awards. Since the program is not fully funded, however, students in the top three percent only receive $2500 per year and the top four and five percent do not receive anything. Fully funding the program would allow students to receive the full award for which they are eligible.

 

After the full Senate considers the bills, the House and Senate will meet in a joint conference committee to make decisions on issues that differ between the two chambers. The budget bills must be delivered to the Governor by May 9.

 

Capital funding bills considered in House committee

 

On April 22, the House Budget committee, chaired by Representative Rick Stream (R-Kirkwood) held an executive session to vote on SB 723, which would increase the amount of revenue bonds the state may issue for capital improvement projects across the state. The bill, sponsored by Senator Mike Parson (R-Bolivar), raises the bond cap by $400 million to $1.175 billion. The House committee substitute of the bill also requires that at least $200 million of the bonds must be issued for the construction of a new Fulton State Hospital. In addition, the House committee version of the bill includes a referendum clause and would require voter approval. The bill has been referred to the House Rules committee for review before going to the full House for consideration.

 

The committee also heard HB 2021, sponsored by Representative Stream, which includes funding for 50/50 capital match projects at higher education institutions across the state. Current law allows public institutions to solicit donations for fifty percent of the cost of a particular capital project and, upon doing so, request the other half of the funding from the state. The bill currently contains the following projects for UM:

 

  • UMKC Free Enterprise Center = $7.4 million
  • UMSL College of Business Administration = $10 million
  • Missouri S&T Experimental Mine Building = $1.2 million
  • MU Lafferre Hall in the College of Engineering = $6.1 million
  • MU Applied Learning Center in the College of Business = $11.1 million
  • MU Fine Arts and Performing Arts Facilities = $2.7 million
  • MU Teaching and Research Winery in the College of Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources = $1.5 million

 

The committee plans to vote on HB 2021 during a hearing scheduled for April 28.

Bill to clarify ability to invest endowment funds clears chambers, sent to Governor

 

This week, legislators approved a bill to correct wording in a statute that will enable higher education institutions to move endowment income to more lucrative investment pools.  House Bill 1523, sponsored by Representative Tony Dugger (R-Hartville), was passed by the House of Representatives earlier in the session and received a final vote in the Senate on April 24. The bill makes the language in statute identical to the national model language adopted by other states and would enable institutions to earn as much as three percent more on income from investments that fund scholarships, faculty positions and other programs.  It now awaits the Governor’s signature.

House combines dairy scholarship and veterinary medicine proposals

 

On April 24, the House Agriculture Policy Committee passed a substitute for SB 859 sponsored by Senator Dan Brown (R-Rolla). The HCS combines the repeal of sunset language for the large animal veterinary medicine loan program with provisions passed by the House earlier in the session establishing a new scholarship loan program for agriculture students.

 

The underlying bill removes from statute the sunset provision for the existing veterinary loan program which provides forgivable loans to students who agree to stay in the state after receiving their veterinary medicine degrees and work in large-animal veterinary practices.   The statutory authority for the program expired last year, although loans are still being provided to students this year.  The dairy bill, passed last week by the House, is HB 1326 sponsored by Representative Casey Guernsey (R-Bethany).

 

MU Graduate-Professional Council honors four legislators

 

LU 4-25 GPC

 

From left: GPC State Issues Director Salama Gallimore, Representative John Wright, Senator Brian Munzlinger, Representative Chris Kelly, Representative Mike Thomson, and GPC President Jake Wright.

 

The Graduate Professional Council at the University of Missouri annually selects a group of legislators to recognize for their support of MU and higher education. This year, the Council recognized Senator Brian Munzlinger (R-Clarence); Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia); Representative Mike Thomson (R-Maryville); and Representative John Wright (D-Rocheport).  The awards were presented during a reception the students hosted at the MU Student Center on April 24.

 

MU wrestlers visit Capitol

 

LU 4-25 Wrestling

 

 Members of the Mizzou Wrestling Team pose with State Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia) in the Capitol Rotunda while visiting Jefferson City to be recognized for their record setting season.

 

LU 4-25 Wrestling 2

 

The Wrestling team also had a chance to visit the Senate and pose on the dais for a photo with State Representative Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia).

 

The 2014 Mid-American Conference champion Mizzou Wrestling squad came to Jefferson City on April 17 to be honored before the Missouri Senate and House of Representatives.  The team, including head coach Brian Smith and national champion J’den Cox, are celebrating their third consecutive conference title.  Cox, a true freshman, became the youngest Tiger to ever win a national title.

 

Legislator Profile: Representative Scott Fitzpatrick

 

LU 4-25 Fitzpatrick

 

Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob), is nearing the end of his first term in the Missouri House but is unique in being one of only a few freshman legislators who serve on the House Budget Committee.  As a first term legislator, Fitzpatrick is grateful for the opportunity to serve on this important committee.

 

While in high school, Fitzpatrick created his current business, MariCorp US, a Shell Knob boat dock manufacturing and construction company. Fitzpatrick continued to run the company while attending the University of Missouri. As a business management major, Fitzpatrick immediately applied the business theories he learned in class to his professional career.

 

When asked about higher education, Fitzpatrick explained the importance of an educated workforce for the economic development of the state.

 

“One of the chief concerns among site selectors and people who are looking to expand businesses is availability of human resources. As an employer myself, attracting top talent and keeping top talent is the most important component to staying in business” Fitzpatrick said.

 

Fitzpatrick’s most memorable moment thus far in the legislature occurred when he walked onto the Missouri House floor for the first time and realized the impact he could make on the state of Missouri.

 

“The gravity of the situation hits you,” he said, “actually going in there and sitting at one of those desks and realizing that people in your district have entrusted you above other people to make decisions on their behalf.”

 

 

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