March 30, 2012

Budget committee hears bonding resolution

On March 28, the House Budget Committee heard HJR 57, sponsored by Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia).  The resolution would place a constitutional amendment on the ballot that would authorize the General Assembly to issue up to $800 million in bonds to provide funding for the construction of state facilities and projects, primarily for higher education.  Nikki Krawitz, Vice President of Finance and Administration for the UM System, testified in support of the resolution, noting that the University of Missouri has a deferred backlog of over $1 billion for maintenance and repair of UM facilities.  Also testifying on behalf of the resolution was Wally Pfeffer, Chair of the Mizzou Legislative Network of the Mizzou Alumni Association.  The committee did not take any action on the bill.

In other capital funding news, a bill that will create a Higher Education Capital Fund to enable 50/50 funding partnerships between the state and higher education institutions is moving through the House.  SB 655, sponsored by Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis) was referred to the House Higher Education committee this week and the Chair plans to hold a hearing on the bill on April 3rd.

Finally, the Senate Appropriations committee will begin its review of the FY 2013 budget bills early next week.  All budget bills must be passed by May 11th, one week before the General Assembly adjourns the regular legislative session.

Committees consider MU Extension legislation

Bills to allow MU Extension to establish single or multi-county districts to support local programming were heard before Senate and House committees this week. SB 865, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg) was heard before the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee on March 28. Representatives of University Extension, the Mizzou Alumni Association, Missouri Farm Bureau, Missouri Association of Counties, and the Missouri Cattleman’s Association testified in support of the bill.

Companion legislation was heard in the House on March 27. HB 1895, sponsored by Rep. Tom Loehner (R-Koeltztown) was presented before the House Agriculture Policy Committee. The committees did not take any action on the bills.

Above: Sen. David Pearce (left) with MU Vice Provost for Extension Michael Ouart (right) during the committee hearing on Senate Bill 865.

House Higher Education committee approves omnibus bill, other legislation

The House Higher Education Committee took up and passed a committee substitute to SB 455 on March 27. Sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), the bill encourages best remediation practices, establishment of a core transfer library of courses, and also contains language related to proprietary schools.

The Committee also took up and passed a committee substitute for HB 1855, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) that establishes the Missouri Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Initiative.

During the hearing, the committee also considered HB 1918, sponsored by Rep. Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff). The bill, which relates to community college course delivery, was opposed by the Council on Public Higher Education and several four-year institutions. The bill was not voted on by the committee.

Governor Nixon releases $1.1 million to UM, UM creates 56 need-based scholarships

On March 26, Governor Nixon released $1.1 million in funds to UM from lottery proceeds. UM announced that the funds will be used to create an additional need-based student scholarship fund. The fund will support 56 endowments worth $40,000 each to create $2,000 scholarships for needy students.  Every $40,000 endowment will be comprised of $20,000 respectively from the state and the UM System.

For the full UM System press release on the scholarships, click here.

Candidate filing closes this week for new House, Senate districts and statewide offices

After weeks of redistricting proposals, court challenges and uncertainty about boundaries for new House and Senate districts, the candidate list for the August primaries was finalized this week. Voters will consider candidates in the state’s eight congressional districts, five of the six statewide offices, 18 of the state’s 34 Senate districts, and all 163 house districts.  A full list of candidates can be seen on the Secretary of State’s site here.

Congressional and statewide races:

Candidates for Governor, Lt. Governor, Treasurer and Attorney General all feature the current office holder, and all face opposition in the primary election, general election, or both. Only one statewide officeholder race does not feature the incumbent, as Sec. of State Robin Carnahan is not seeking re-election.  U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill is seeking another term but will face the winner of an eight-way primary for the Republican slot.  Seven of the eight Congressional district races include an incumbent, although in some cases they are running for different district numbers due to redrawing of the boundaries and the loss of one Congressional district.  Two incumbents, Russ Carnahan and Lacy Clay, will face-off for the newly drawn first district in St. Louis.  The only Congressional seat in which an incumbent is not running for reelection is the second district, located in the St. Louis area, currently held by Congressman Todd Akin.

State Senate:

For 2013, the Senate will see at least 10 new faces. Seven current senators are running for re-election. Four incumbent senators face opposition: Jim Lembke (R-St. Louis), Robin Wright Jones (D-St. Louis), Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), and David Pearce (R-Warrensburg). The Senate will welcome former House minority leader Paul LeVota in the 11th district as he faces no opponent in the fall.  The Senate will elect a new President Pro-Tem as current leader Rob Mayer (R-Dexter) is term limited.  The Senate will bid farewell to seven other current members who are term limited. They include Victor Callahan (D-Independence), Tim Green (D-St. Louis), Jason Crowell (R-Cape Girardeau), Kevin Engler (R-Farmington), Chuck Purgason (R-Caulfield), Luann Ridgeway (R-Smithville), Bill Stouffer (R-Napton), and Jack Goodman (R-

State House of Representatives:

The House will welcome at least 42 new faces in 2013.  A total of 25 current members are term-limited, and four seats will see current incumbents squaring off against each other due to new district boundary lines. There will be 83 House incumbents running for another term this fall, and 38 of them face no opposition.  The House will be electing a new leader as Speaker Steven Tilley (R-Perryville) is term limited.  Full details of these races can been viewed on the Secretary of State’s web site at the link above.

March 23, 2012

House passes budget bills

On March 22, the House of Representatives gave final approval to all thirteen bills recommending fiscal year 2013 funding for the various state departments.  In HB2003, the higher education appropriations bill, the House approved the committee version of the bill, which restores all 2- and 4-year public higher education institutions to their FY12 levels. 

Under this plan, the University of Missouri would receive $397.9 million. Specific to UM, the bill also contains level funding for all of its University of Missouri – Related items, such as the Missouri Kidney Program and the State Historical Society, among others.  The bill also includes $1.5 million for the Spinal Cord Injury Fund, representing an increase of $875,000 from its FY12 appropriation. This increase will allow more research projects to be awarded at an adequate level of funding. Finally, $1.3 million was added to the UM-Related items for the Missouri Federal and State Technology Partnership Program, which is affiliated with MU Extension.

The bills will now move to the Senate. The FY13 budget must be passed by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 11, one week prior to the end of the legislative session.

Capital funding bills move forward

The House Higher Education committee, chaired by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), passed HB1502 on March 20. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California), creates a Higher Education Capital Fund to receive matching funds to public colleges and universities for new construction, maintenance, and renovation. When a college or university raises 50 percent of the cost of a project through private donations or grants, it may request funding from the state for the remaining 50 percent. A companion bill, SB655 sponsored by Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis) has already passed the Senate and is awaiting a committee referral in the House.

Senate, House Committees prepare to hear bills to allow for University Extension districts

Bills to provide MU Extension with the option of forming local districts to increase efficiencies and better serve local needs will be heard before Senate and House Committees next week.

SB865, sponsored by Senator David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), will be heard March 28 before the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee. HB1895, sponsored by Rep. Tom Loehner (R-Koeltztown), will be heard March 27 before the House Agriculture Policy Committee. The bills are identical.

The proposed legislation will allow a county or group of counties to form a local Extension district to better provide for local programming needs. The districts also would have the ability to place local property tax levies on the ballot to support local Extension programming.

UM President Tim Wolfe visits Congressional delegation

In early March, UM President Tim Wolfe visited each of Missouri’s Congressional members in Washington D.C. The visit was President Wolfe’s first since beginning his appointment as President in mid-February. The visit also included meetings with Hunter Rawlings, President of the Association of American Universities (AAU), and Peter McPherson, President of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU).  


Above from left: Congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) with UM President Tim Wolfe.

Senator Blunt receives award from CARET

On February 29, representatives from MU Extension presented Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) with the Congressional Champions’ Award from the Council on Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching (CARET). The Congressional Champions’ Award is presented to individuals who demonstrate steadfast commitment to the agricultural programs of the nation’s land-grant universities. Blunt has supported the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources and MU Extension throughout his career.

Above from left: Sandy Stegall, MU Extension coordinator of constituent communications; Thomas Brown, farmer and volunteer spokesperson for Lincoln University; Michael Ouart, MU vice provost and director of extension; Sen. Roy Blunt; Steve Meredith, dean, Lincoln University College of Agricultural and Natural Sciences; and Beverly Coberly, MU Extension associate vice provost for programs.

Legislative Day reminder

UM Legislative Day, sponsored by the Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension will be April 3. In addition to showcasing each campus’ strengths in the 3rd floor rotunda, a rally in the first floor rotunda will begin at 9:30AM. All university supporters are encouraged to attend. For specific details on each campus’ activities, please contact the Alumni Association Directors at each campus.

March 9, 2012

FY 2013 budget passes House committee

The House Budget Committee passed all of the fiscal year 2013 budget bills on March 7thHB 2003 includes funding for the state’s public 2- and 4-year institutions at FY12 levels, which is a $106 million increase over the initial recommendation. The increase was made possible, in part, by a $40 million Governor’s amendment, a result of legal settlement funds which will be received by the state. The additional $66 million is the result of a number of modifications throughout the budget made by the Chairman, Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City). 

The committee adopted an amendment to remove $300,000 from the University of Missouri’s operating budget and an amendment to add $3.5 million to the A+ scholarship program. The bills are expected to be debated on the House floor beginning March 19th, when the General Assembly returns from its legislative spring break.

House passes transfer and articulation legislation

A proposal to improve the process of transferring academic credit among institutions and strengthen the quality of remedial education passed the House of Representatives this week. HB 1042, sponsored by Rep. Mike Thomson (R-Maryville), would require the development of a 25-course library that would transfer among institutions. It also seeks use of best practices in remedial education courses offered primarily at community colleges in the state. SB 455, a similar bill sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warresnburg), has been adopted by the Senate and is awaiting committee assignment in the House.

Legislation to allow Extension districts introduced in House, Senate

MU’s State Extension Council is seeking a statutory change that would enable the organization to form optional local Extension districts to better provide local programming to citizens.  SB 865, sponsored by Sen. David Pearce (R-Warrensburg), and HB 1895, sponsored by Rep. Tom Loehner (R-Koeltztown), have been introduced to enact the changes needed to allow for the creation of single-county or multi-county Extension districts.

Formation of districts would enable  Extension to provide more streamlined and efficient services in many areas of the state, and would also enable the organization to place local tax levies on local ballots to support programming.

The Senate bill has been referred to the Senate Agriculture, Food Production and Outdoor Resources Committee, and the House bill has been referred to the House Agriculture Policy Committee.

Voting student curator legislation defeated in House committee

Legislation to replace a current member of the University of Missouri Board of Curators with a voting student was taken up and defeated by the House Higher Education Committee on March 6.  The committee first heard HB 1353, sponsored by Rep. Jill Schupp (D-Creve Coeur) which clarifies that one of the curator appointments “may” be a student. After that hearing, the committee took up that bill plus two other bills on the same topic  which were heard previously, HB 1257 sponsored by Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), and HB 1587 sponsored by Rep. Zachary Wyatt (R-Kirksville) both of which replace one current Board member with a voting student.  The committee defeated all three bills by a 4-7 vote.

In the Senate, SB 747 sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), was heard before the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations Committee on March 5. This bill also would replace one of the current nine members of the Board of Curators with a voting student, with the first appointment designated to be a graduate or professional student for a two-year term. Several student organizations testified in support of the bill. Board of Curators Chairman David Bradley submitted a letter of opposition to the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations Committee. To view Chairman Bradley’s letter, click here.

Senator Dan Brown visits with high school robotics teams on Missouri S&T campus

Sen. Dan Brown (R-Rolla) met with members of the Rolla High School Patriots robotics team during the FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship held at Missouri S&T on February 25. FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1989 “to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders” through participation in various robotics programs. This is the second consecutive year that Missouri S&T has hosted the FIRST statewide championship.

Above: Missouri S&T Interim Chancellor Kent Wray (third from left) and Sen. Dan Brown (second from right) during the FIRST Tech Challenge State Championship.

UM Legislative Day to be held on April 3

UM Legislative Day, sponsored by the Alliance of Alumni Associations and Extension, will be held on April 3. Each of the UM campuses and MU Extension will showcase displays in the 3rd floor rotunda, and a rally will take place at approximately 9:30AM. Speakers at the rally will include UM President Tim Wolfe and Alumni Alliance Chairman Don Flora.

Click here for a brief schedule of the day’s events.

March 2, 2012

House Budget committee to review budget bills

Beginning on March 5th, the House Budget committee is scheduled to consider the House Committee Substitutes for all of the budget bills. Chairman Ryan Silvey (R-Kansas City) submitted his version of the budget bills on March 1st.  In the committee substitute for HB 2003, which contains the higher education budget, the Chair is recommending funding for all public 2- and 4-year institutions at their FY 2012 levels. Under this version of the plan, the University of Missouri System would receive $398.2 million.

In other budget news this week, Governor Nixon announced that he would release $2.3 million for current year university and community college operating appropriations. The funds are being released because lottery receipts are ahead of estimates for the year.

Finally, the Missouri Office of Administration released the February 2012 general revenue collections. Year-to-date net general revenue collections increased 2.4 percent compared to 2011 and net general revenue collections for February 2012 increased by 15.1 percent compared to those for February 2011.

Higher ed capital funding bill passes Senate

On March 1st, the Senate passed SB 655, sponsored by Sen. Tim Green (D-St. Louis). The bill creates a higher education capital fund in which the state may appropriate 50 percent of the cost of a capital project when a higher education institution raises 50 percent of the cost through private means. The bill will now move to the House for consideration.  The companion bill currently in the House is HB 1502, sponsored by Rep. Caleb Jones (R-California).

Lawmakers hear bills to replace current Board of Curator member with a voting student

Several bills have been filed in the House and Senate this year that would replace one of the nine members of the Board of Curators with a voting student.  The House Higher Education Committee heard HB 1257, sponsored by Rep. Chris Kelly (D-Columbia), and HB 1587, sponsored by Rep. Zachary Wyatt (R-Kirksville), on February 28.  The committee  plans to hear another bill, HB 1353, sponsored by Rep. Jill Schupp (D-St. Louis) on March 6.

SB 747, a similar bill in the Senate sponsored by Senator Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), will be heard March 5 before the Senate Financial and Governmental Organizations Committee.

The proposals are being promoted by the Associated Students of the University of Missouri (ASUM) with support from several campus student organizations.  In the past, the Board of Curators has taken a position in opposition to the concept.  A letter opposing this year’s bills was provided to committee members from Board of Curators Chairman David Bradley. To see the letter go here.

House bill would encourage Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics programs

HB 1855, sponsored by Rep. Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) was introduced this week to encourage more students to consider fields of study in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.  It also establishes a STEM initiative in the Department of Higher Education and a fund that could be used to hire faculty, equip laborabories, and provide scholarships. The bill provides a tax credit to businesses who hire students as interns in STEM fields, applying the tax credit revenue to the STEM fund.

The bill is scheduled to be heard before the House Higher Education Committee on March 6. Similar legislation was introduced the previous two years and supported by the University of Missouri.

UM students participate in Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol

Legislators had the opportunity to learn about research that undergraduates are conducting on the four campuses of the University of Missouri during Undergraduate Research Day on Thursday, March 1. A total of 46 students from the campuses, along with several faculty members and parents, spent the day meeting with lawmakers and showcasing the undergraduate experiences they receive at MU, Missouri S&T, UMKC and UMSL.

The group was introduced before the House of Representatives and the Senate, and several of the students received special proclamations from their legislators.  UM President Tim Wolfe spent part of the morning with the students, listening to their summaries of research and asking questions. For additional photos of the event, click here.

Above from left to right: UM President Tim Wolfe, Missouri S&T students Lisa Tatro and Ryan Rader, and Rep. Keith Frederick (R-Rolla).