Session ends on May 14. With two weeks out, things are starting to move quickly and single issue bills are become rare. The week started with the House Appropriations Committee voting out House Bills 17, 18, and 19. HB19 included appropriations for specific projects requests for stimulus funding. Included in HB19 was a line item for the Veterinary Medicine Diagnostics Lab (VMDL) at MU. The House Budget Committee approved a $15m match with the state to go towards the VMDL. A link to the bill can be found HERE. The Senate heard the budget on the floor and passed it out, without much drama. Throughout the week there were rumors a disruption via filibuster on Medicaid expansion by the minority could be on the horizon for the Senate, however, after a vote of 20-14 an amendment to fund Medicaid failed on the Senate Floor and budget bills 1-12 were Third Read and Passed right before 1am on Thursday morning.
The Senate Education Committee met Monday afternoon for an executive session. House Bill 297, the bill that includes language to remove the cap on tuition, was voted out 7-1 and then referred to the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. Thursday morning the committee met and passed HB297 5-1. The bill will now be on the Senate Calendar and could be brought up at anytime for debate and a vote. Throughout the week, the Government Relations team met with Missouri Senators to discuss the implications of a tuition cap, and the positive impact a tuition cap removal would have on student success.
The Senate brought up SB98, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, which would authorize sports wagering, for debate both on Monday and Tuesday this week. The bill was laid over both times following lengthy debate and numerous amendment proposals. The University of Missouri Athletics has been working with the bill sponsor to ensure protection of the integrity of student athletes and collegiate games. At this time it is unclear if there is a path forward for this bill this session.
Tuesday morning the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education met to vote out SB152, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins. The bill includes the language to remove the cap on tuition for public institutions, but also includes numerous amendments added both in the Senate and House Committee. SB152 passed out of committee Tuesday morning and was sent to Rules for a vote before it will be placed on the calendar. Once it is brought up on the floor for debate, Representatives can add additional amendments to the language. If the bill gets to a vote and passes the house, it will then likely go to conference and be narrowed down.
Senate Education met on Tuesday afternoon and heard Rep. Travis Fitzwater’s computer science bill, HB320. The bill had several witnesses testify against the language due to an amendment related to school board petitions that was added in the House. The committee plans to take a vote on the bill next week. They did, however, vote out Sen. Mike Moon’s bill, Senate Bill 566, which establishes the Campus Intellectual Diversity Act to create offices of public policy events at each public institution of higher education. SB566 would require CBHE to fund and staff an office of public policy events on each campus in Missouri to organize debates, group forums, and individual lectures. It would require that opposing viewpoints both be equally represented when having speakers or debates on campus.
Wednesday afternoon the Senate debated budget bills on the floor. House Bill 3, related to the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, was passed with little discussion. Sen. Hegeman offered a substitute that increased the core appropriations for the UM System, specifically for UMKC, S&T and UMSL, by $5M. This is in addition to increasing the amount for NextGen from the House’s $3M in the core, to $10m in the core. A total increase of $15M, which brings us to the 3.7% core increase that all COPHE institutions received in budget markup last week.
Any changes made from the senate to the house budget will go to conference next week and must be finalized by next Friday, May 7.
At the same time, House Bill 682, sponsored by Rep. Jason Chipman, which would prohibit universities from requiring students to live on campus more than 1 year, passed the House Floor for perfection with numerous amendments related to COVID liability and government authority.