Both chambers were back in session this week with much nicer weather compared to last week's, during which the House was out Monday and Tuesday and the Senate for the whole week.
This Tuesday, President Choi visited the Capitol and met with members of the House Higher Education Committee to discuss House Bill 856, sponsored by Rep. Doug Richey, which would repeal the tuition cap. House Bill 856 is set to be voted on in committee on Monday, March 1, 2021 at 12:00 p.m.
House Higher Education committee focus on statewide missions
The House Higher Education committee heard two bills this week, House bill 908 and Concurrent Resolution 29, both focused on higher education statewide mission designations. House Bill 908, sponsored by Rep. Allen Andrews, pertains to Northwest Missouri State University, while Concurrent Resolution 29, sponsored by Rep. Louis Riggs, would fulfill the STEM designation for Harris-Stowe State University.
HB 908: The bill proposes designating Northwest Missouri State University as an institution with a statewide mission in educator preparation, emergency and disaster management, and profession-based learning. Under current law, public higher education institutions with a statewide mission are overseen by a board of governors. The bill, which has completed a public hearing, would allow Northwest Missouri State University to be governed by its board of regents.
Concurrent Resolution 29: This Concurrent Resolution would allow Harris-Stowe State University's discharge of a statewide mission in STEM courses that it can successfully discharge a statewide mission in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for underrepresented and under-resourced students. The Coordinating Board voted to approve this designation request in December of 2019.
Additionally, the committee voted out a bill that proposed Southeast Missouri State University be designated a statewide mission in visual and performing arts, computer science, and cybersecurity. The bill, HB297, was referred to the House Committee on Rules and Administrative Oversight.
Senate laid over debate on charter school expansion bill
The Senate had two late nights this week as they worked into the early morning hours to perfect priority legislation. On Tuesday, the Senate debated SCS SBs 55, 23 & 25, sponsored by Sen. Cindy O'Laughlin, modifying provisions related to elementary and secondary education. Amongst other things, the bill would expand charter school operation in any school district located with a charter county or municipality with a population greater than 30,000. The Senate debated until 1:30 a.m. Wednesday morning and laid it over for consideration, placing it on the informal calendar.
The General Assembly is moving legislation quickly as they prepare to break for Spring Break in two weeks. The last day to file legislation is Monday, March 1st.
Next Wednesday the House Subcommittee on Appropriations – Education will meet to do markups. We expect a busy couple of weeks with potential for some late nights ahead.