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NewsBook: Missouri Government News for the Week of April 16, 2007

. Republican's remove MoHELA funding but may have no lasting impact (04/19/2007)

Republicans removed $31 million for building projects on the University of Missouri-Columbia campus Wednesday and admitted they were punishing  Columbia's Senator. Republicans said they removed the projects from the bill due to the Senator's involvement with a filibuster.

At issue is the $31 million related to the UMC Campus, which Republican leaders admit they took out of the MOHELA appropriation's budget following a nine-hour filibuster led by  Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia.

Although the bill must still go through the House of Representatives,  Republicans are claiming there is no way to add the UMC buildings back to the project list.  

But the Republican action bill may not have any real impact on projects for Columbia's future.  Money taken from Columbia was not appropriated to any other university and will remain in a general fund.  Besides, the appropriations bill funding authorization expires on July 1 -- almost two months before the bill authorizing the sale of MoHELA assets likely would take effect.

. Missouri's Senate shuts off debate and approves the governor's plan to sell off assets of the state's college loan program. (04/19/2007)

By a near straight party-line vote, the Senate terminated a marathon filibuster and forced a vote on the governor's program to sell assets of the MOHELA program to finance a building construction program.

Democrats had been filibustering the proposal arguing that the program's assets should be used for students and that selling the assets would jeopardize the agency's financial stability.

The governor has promoted the proposal as a means for economic development through construction projects and life-science research.

. Missouri lawmakers have taken another look at campus safety regulations in the wake of Monday's Virginia Tech shootings. (04/18/2007)

Missouri's current concealed carry law allows Missouri residents to carry concealed weapons after obtaining a valid permit.

Columbia's Democratic Senator Chuck Graham says that law changes when you step foot onto any University of Missouri campus.

Get the radio story here
. House amends protection of companies in Asbestos lawsuits (04/04/2007)

The House passed an amendment to protect companies sued by victims of Asbestos poisoning.

Representative Brian David Yates called lawsuits against companies unjust.

 Get the radio story here

. Mental health issues addressed during capitol rally (04/18/2007)

State legislators challenge societal views toward the mentally handicapped.

House minority leader Jeff Harris of Columbia calls upon Medicaid to improve mental health care.

  •  Get the radio story here

  • . Missouri schools could see a new turn in sex education. (04/18/2007)

    The Missouri House gave first-round approval to a bill that could give schools an option of teaching the federally structured abstinence program.

    At the same time the bill could severely limit who can teach sex education in public schools.

    . Governor creates higher education safety task force (04/17/2007)

    The governor announced the creation of a higher education safety task force that will improve safety standards. heighten security and create a comprehensive report of it's findings by fall 2007.

    Committee members will be chosen within the next few weeks and will include higher education leaders, law enforcement and college students.

    . Legislators consider an electricity-producing landfill for Columbia (04/17/2007)

    A "fairly giant research project" could turn Columbia's trash into enough electricity to generate up to 5 percent of the city's power needs, state officials said Tuesday.

    The project, aided by a bill sponsored by Sen. Kevin Engler, R-Farmington, would allow city residents to dump their yard waste into a bioreactor landfill. The yard waste, including grass and tree limbs, would mix with the landfill's household trash, thus decomposing faster and speeding up the production of methane gas, said Jim Hull, director of the solid waste management program with the Missouri Natural Resources Department.

    The city would then capture the gas and turn it into electricity.

    . Senate Appropriations Committee passes state budget (04/16/2007)

    The Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday unanimously passed the state's $21 billion budget, which includes a more than 4 percent increase to higher education and the University of Missouri System.

    But some democratic senators do not think that's enough.

    "It isn't what the original commitment was and we still are back to our 2001 levels," Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said. "The burden has been shifted over to students because we haven't kept up."

    . Missouri Senate takes a moment of silence and prayer for families and victims in Virginia Tech Shooting (04/16/2007)

    Following the shooting of students at Virginia Tech Monday, the Missouri Senate had a moment of silence and prayer for the families and victims of the shooting.

    Senator Gary Nodler, Charimen of the Education committee, says the shooting is a terrible tragedy but unfortunately it is the world we live in.

    . Medicaid reform heads to the House. (04/16/2007)

    The House has four weeks to pass legislation to reform Medicaid. If it doesn't, the June 2008 sunset will pass before any legislation that might be passed next session could take effect.

    The chair of the House committee the bill was assigned to last week said that he thinks four weeks is enough time to get the bill to the governor's desk.