Budget bills ready for floor debate
The House Budget committee, chaired by Rep. Ryan Silvey  (R-Kansas City), finished its work on the FY 2012 appropriations bills in rapid fashion this week. The committee considered amendments and voted on the bills on March 15th. In HB 3 , the higher education appropriations bill, the committee elected to remain at the Governor’s recommendation for a 7 percent reduction to all 2-year and 4-year institution core appropriations. Under this plan, the University of Missouri would receive $398.2 million for FY12.
A few changes were made to the University of Missouri-Related programs. By amendment, $2 million was removed from the Missouri Kidney Program’s budget and reallocated to a new joint pharmacy program between UMKC and Missouri State University. Another amendment added $50,000 to the previously zeroed line for MOREnet. Finally, a $12 million appropriation for the “Preparing to Care” competitive grant program was retained in the committee substitute, but its funding source will now be from general revenue rather than from the Lewis and Clark Discovery Initiative Fund. All other recommendations for the UM-Related items mirrored the Governor’s.
The bills passed through the House Rules committee on March 17 with a six-hour time limit for floor debate split equally between the parties. Debate will begin on the House floor March 28.
House committee approves dental licensing bill
The House Professional Registration and Licensing committee on Wednesday adopted HB 591  sponsored by Rep. Donna Lichtenegger  (R-Jackson) which would allow the UMKC School of Dentistry to hire dentists who received training outside of the U.S. Currently, dentists can only be licensed in Missouri if they graduate from an accredited U.S. dental program.
UMKC School of Dentistry Dean Marsha Pyle testified before the committee that UMKC has had a difficult time filling vacancies because it is not able to offer salaries that are competitive with what dentists can earn in private practice. There have been some dentists trained outside of the U.S. who would have been willing to be hired but could not be licensed. This bill provides for a limited teaching license that requires the applicant meet all other requirements and pass exams before receiving the license. The bill now goes to the full House for consideration.
Mid-session legislation status
The University is tracking a number of bills this legislative session and below is a status update at the mid-point, as legislators adjourn for their spring break.
Board of Curators
HB 174 , sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson  (R-Maryville), modifies the composition of the UM Board of Curators, MSU Board of Governors, and the CBHE. The bill has passed the House and was second read and referred to the Senate Education committee in the Senate on March 17.
SB 163 , sponsored by Sen. David Pearce  (R-Warrensburg), is the companion bill in the Senate and was Perfected on March 9th with an amendment to remove the word “coordinating” from referrals to the CBHE. The bill was given final Senate approval on March 17 and will now go to the House for consideration.
HJR 9 , sponsored by Rep. Chris Kelly  (D-Columbia), would allow bonding for higher education institutions. The bill has been referred to the Higher Education committee in the House, where it is expected to have a hearing the last week of March.
SB 200 , sponsored by Sen. Jason Crowell  (R-Cape Girardeau), would modify the ability of higher education institutions to issue bonds and incur debt. The bill could possibly limit an institution’s ability to bond for capital improvements. It is currently on the Senate Perfection calendar.
SB 268 , sponsored by Sen. Bill Stouffer  (R-Napton), increases the statutory award amount for Alzheimer’s research grants from $30,000 to $50,000. This budget line item was removed from the UM-Related section of HB 3. The legislation would increase the award limit in the event that the line is restored. It was voted do pass by committee on March 16th. HB 682 , sponsored by Rep. Margo McNeil  (D-Florissant) is the companion bill in the House and it is awaiting a committee hearing.
HB 755 , sponsored by Rep. Melissa Leach  (R-Springfield), subjects the spinal cord injury fund, the appropriation for which is contained in the UM-Related section of HB 3, to the provisions of 196.1127. This section prohibits any public funds from being used for any life sciences research involving human cloning and stem cell research. The bill was heard in committee on March 16th.
SB 130 , sponsored by Sen. Scott Rupp  (R-Wentzville), would create an early high school graduation scholarship for public high school students that could be applied toward college tuition. The bill has passed out of committee and has been debated on the Senate floor, though no vote was taken.
Two bills have been filed to authorize $500 advanced placement grants to students who receive A+ or Access Scholarships and also complete A.P. courses. HB 231 , sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson, has been incorporated into a substitute bill that is waiting for consideration before the Rules committee. SB 265 , sponsored by Sen. Rupp, is similar and has been heard before Senate Education.
HB 232 , sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson, would extend eligibility for A+ scholarships to public high school students who meet certain income criteria. That bill was heard in the House Higher Education committee but has not advanced.
SB 164 , sponsored by Senator David Pearce  (R-Warrensburg) and HB 352 , sponsored by Rep. Wayne Wallingford  (R-Cape Girardeau) both create a science, technology, engineering and math initiative within the Department of Higher Education to provide matching funds for University or private dollars to enhance scholarships, experiential camps, endowed professorships or other projects to expand participation in the science fields. Both bills have been heard in their respective education committees and adopted by the committees.
HB 867 , sponsored by Rep. Jay Barnes  (R-Jefferson City), would establish the “Missouri Biosciences Eminent Scholars Program” within the University of Missouri to provide grants to attract scholars in the bioscience fields. The bill was introduced March 16 and has yet to be referred to committee.
HB 468 , sponsored by Rep. John Diehl  (R-Town & Country), establishes the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act, or MOSIRA. The act would create a fund for the receipt of a percentage of the increase in gross wages of employees in the science and technology fields. Such funds would then be used to promote and support businesses and programs in the science and technology fields. The bill was voted out of committee on March 16th. The companion bill in the Senate is SB 79 , sponsored by Sen. Jolie Justus  (D-Kansas City) and was incorporated into a substitute (SB 189 ) that is awaiting Senate floor consideration.
Members of MO Congressional delegation attend MU vs. Cincinnati game
Several members of the Missouri Congressional delegation attended the MU vs. Cincinnati basketball game at the Verizon Center for Round 2 of the NCAA Tournament. Attendees included Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), Congressman Russ Carnahan (MO-3), Congressman Sam Graves (MO-6), and Congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson (MO-8).
Marcheita Anderson, MU basketball coach Mike Anderson’s wife; former Congressman Kenny Hulshof; MU Athletic Director Mike Alden; U.S. Senator Roy Blunt; and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, seated on the right; at the Missouri Tigers vs. Cincinnati Bearcats Round 2 game in the NCAA Tournament held in Washington D.C.
Redistricting hearing held on UMKC campus
More than 50 citizens attended a hearing held on the UMKC campus by the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting on March 11. The hearing was held to provide an opportunity for public input into the redistricting process. Missouri is slated to lose a Congressional district based on the 2010 US Census.
From left: Senators Victor Callahan (D-Independence), David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), Brad Lager (R-Savannah), and Scott Rupp (R-Wentzville) prepare to take public testimony at UMKC. Other committee members joined via telephone.
UMSL students host Lunch with a Legislator
UMSL students attended a “Lunch with a Legislator,” sponsored by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri on March 14. Representative Clem Smith (D-St. Louis) was the guest speaker.
From left to right: UMSL seniors Ivana Aleksic and Melissa Alper, Representative Clem Smith, and ASUM Legislative Intern Lauren Rodriguez.