February 24, 2012

House Budget Committee hears subcommittee recommendations

The House Budget committee met on Feb. 21 and 22 to hear recommendations from the Appropriations subcommittees, including Appropriations – Education, that incorporates the higher education appropriations. Each Chairperson presented his or her committee’s recommendations for the bills they were assigned.

For higher education, the committee recommended combining a number of smaller scholarship programs, some of which have not been fully utilized in the last few years, into one account. The integrity of each scholarship program would remain, but if funds are not used by one program, then this pool will allow funds to be used by another program. The committee also sent a letter to the Budget Chair requesting that a certain amount of lottery funds be used for specific priorities identified by the committee. Included in this recommendation was $316,718 for MORENet.

The Budget committee did not take action on any of the bills.

MOSIRA legislation ruled unconstitutional; Attorney General plans appeal

The Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA), which was passed by the General Assembly during the 2012 special session, was ruled unconstitutional on Feb. 20.  The bill established a program to help fund new businesses in the biosciences.  The Judge’s ruling stated that language included in the final version of the bill making the enactment of MOSIRA contingent upon the passage of another piece of legislation is unconstitutional.  

Attorney General Chris Koster has stated he will appeal the ruling and legislators are currently considering a bill that could become the vehicle to pass the language again.  SB 733, sponsored by Sen. Ron Richard (R-Joplin) was introduced to remove the contingency clause from current law.

The University of Missouri System has been a strong supporter of MOSIRA, which has the potential to provide significant new funding to attract and expand businesses that bring research concepts to the marketplace and create jobs.

New Senate district maps approved by committee as lawmakers debate changing filing period

It is still not clear where boundaries for Missouri’s 34 state Senate districts will be as the filing period for the fall elections opens next week. The Missouri Supreme Court rejected an earlier version of the map in January and a new commission was appointed to gather additional public input and draw a new set of districts. One of the commission hearings was hosted by the University of Missouri-Kansas City on February 20.

The new version of the map has been submitted to the Secretary of State’s office. After a 15-day public comment period, the plan must receive final approval by the commission.

Sen. Mike Parson (R-Bolivar) introduced SB 773 last week, which proposes to delay the beginning of the filing period set to begin on February 28. The House amended the bill to shorten the filing period, rather than delay it.  The Senate took up the bill with the House changes on February 23, however, several Senators raised objections to the new version of the Senate district map and urged that passage of SB 773 be delayed.  The Senate adjourned for the week without taking action on the bill.

To link to an interactive map showing the latest version of the Senate districts, click here.

Above: The Senate Apportionment Commission committee meeting on the UMKC campus.

Curators set in-state tuition rates at 3 percent for 2012-2013 school year

The University of Missouri Board of Curators met on February 20 to adopt plans for a three percent increase in tuition for in-state undergraduates at the System’s four campuses. For the news release on the Board of Curators decision, click here.

MU football team honored by House and Senate

Nearly 30 members of the 2011 Mizzou football team came to Jefferson City on Tuesday, Feb. 21, to meet with legislators and fans. The players joined head coach Gary Pinkel and Athletic Director Mike Alden for a session to sign posters and footballs for Senators and Representatives in the House Lounge. The players were then recognized with resolutions before the Missouri Senate and Missouri House of Representatives. Following the official congratulations in the chambers, the players returned to the House Lounge where they met with staff and fans. A highlight for fans and photographers was the 2011 Independence Bowl trophy, which was displayed in the Lounge with Mizzou banners. The Tigers won the trophy after defeating North Carolina in the bowl game in December.

The day also marked the first visit to the capitol for new UM System President Timothy Wolfe, who began his official duties February 15. Wolfe visited with the football team and had an opportunity to meet many Senators and Representatives through the course of the day.

Above: Coach Pinkel (top right) and members of the MU football team with UM President Tim Wolfe (front left) and Senator Mike Kehoe (R-Jefferson City) (front right). Photo is courtesy of Bill Greenblatt. For more photos of their visit, click here.

Senator Roy Blunt visits the transportation center at Missouri S&T

Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) toured the High-Bay Structures Laboratory at Missouri University of Science & Technology on February 21. Blunt’s visit included a tour of the lab and presentations on their nationally recognized Center for Transportation Infrastrucure and Safety. Missouri S&T’s Center is one of ten institutions that are a part of the National University Transportation Centers.

Above: Dr. Kamal Khayat (left), Director of the Center for Infrastructure Engineering Studies and National University Transportation Center, Senator Roy Blunt (center), and Genda Chen (right), Professor of Civil Engineering.

UMSL hosts legislative reception

On February 19, the University of Missouri-St. Louis hosted a legislative reception. Elected officials toured the chemistry labs at Benton-Stadler Hall. Elected officials also met with Chancellor’s Council and UMSL administrators.

Above: Representative Karla May (D-St. Louis) (left), Congressman Russ Carnahan (D-MO), and Judge Debra Carnahan.
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