Budget Chair Cody Smith released the House Committee Substitute for the Appropriations Bills on Wednesday morning. HCS HB 3 included a few critical changes from the original recommendations from the House Subcommittee on Appropriation for Education, including a cut to deferred maintenance from the recommended $20 million to a cut of $9 million. With this cut, UM System deferred maintenance was cut $1 million and the remaining $1 million was moved out of the TPMC lines item back to deferred maintenance. You may remember from two weeks ago that during the House Subcommittee on Approps. for Education, Rep. Kendrick had offered an amendment to move the $2 million from deferred maintenance to the TPMC line item, which already had $1 million designated, for a total of $3 million.With the changes from Budget Chair Smith, UM System has a $1 million line item for TPMC and $1 million for deferred maintenance, while our core remains flat. We will continue to work with the budget office and Senate Appropriations in an effort to increase the investment and support for the TPMC.
Returning Heroes Act
The Missouri Returning Heroes Act passed on the house floor this week with the addition of two amendments. HB 400 expands the current Returning Heroes Act to both undergraduate and graduate degrees, limiting to tuition to 30% of actual cost for combat veterans who are also Missouri residents. On Wednesday, the bill was perfected with two amendments: the first adding language that would define who would qualify as a combat veteran and the second amendment excluded professional degree programs from the bill. The language specifies that “professional degrees may include but are not limited to law, medicine, or veterinary degrees.” The bill now goes to fiscal review.
The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 573, sponsored by Representative Dean Dohrman, on Tuesday evening. The Title IX coordinator from the University of Missouri testified in opposition on behalf of UM System. We have been told there will be a vote on the bill next week to exec it out of committee.
Conceal Carry in Gun Free Zones
Representative Jered Taylor’s HB 258, which makes changes to the list of locations an individual can carry a concealed firearm within the state, including public institutions of higher education, was heard Wednesday afternoon in House General Laws. The way the bill is currently written, it would allow individuals to carry a firearm on campus, with certain designated limitations. For example, an individual could conceal carry a firearm on campus, but maybe not into labs or an auditorium depending on the governing board's decision.
COPHE testified on our behalf, stating the concern for firearms on college campuses. Two police officers also testified on the danger in having students carry weapons on campus.
Student Curator Legislation
SB 265, sponsored by Senator Tony Luetkemeyer, which would make the 9th at-large position on the Board of Curators a student curator, was voted out of committee on Tuesday, 5-3.
The House Higher Education Committee heard Representative Ann Kelley’s version of the student curator bill, HB 753, on Monday evening.
Charters School Legislation
We are currently tracking several bills that would expand charters in Missouri while also streamlining the process for sponsorship approval and increasing accountability measures. We plan to meet with senators next week regarding concerns with current language that could eliminate the ability for universities to sponsor charter schools in the future. At this time, UM System sponsors numerous charters through MU, UMKC and UMSL.