Education continues to be one of my highest priorities in the Missouri Senate. As the Chair of the Senate Education Committee, I have the opportunity to hear a variety of different ideas on how Missouri can improve our education system. This week we were able to move two of those ideas through the legislative process.
Senate Bill 577 has been combined with Senate Bill 807 to increase the efficiency and accessibility of degree programs. Last year, leaders in higher education gathered to discuss some cost-efficient ways of expanding academic offerings through the University of Missouri. Senate Bill 807 is the product of these discussions and provides students throughout the state with cost-effective solutions to obtain a degree at one of Missouri’s higher education institutions. The collaboration of Missouri’s colleges and universities as well as Zora Mulligan, Commissioner of Higher Education, was instrumental in creating this bill.
This legislation provides flexibility and access for students throughout the state. For example, under SB 807, Mineral Area Community College would be able to offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for students who cannot move all the way to Columbia but want to pursue a career in nursing. Additionally, universities can partner with the University of Missouri-Columbia to provide doctorate degrees in engineering. This measure would allow working Missourians to pursue advanced degrees without needing to relocate or quit their jobs.
I was hopeful we could have third read this legislation and moved it to the House this week, but we were caught up in a filibuster and negotiations on a complicated utility bill. (More on that next week.)
Elementary and Secondary Education
As many know, I have been very concerned about the gubernatorial appointment process this year. The issues surrounding the appointments to the Missouri Board of Education, as well as several other boards and commissions, highlighted a loophole in the current gubernatorial appointment process. This loophole must be addressed in order to restore integrity to the gubernatorial appointment process.
Senate Bill 794 would require the governor to inform the Missouri Senate, in writing, of any appointments to state boards or commissions made while the General Assembly is not in session. After appointment and notification, the governor will also be prohibited from withdrawing or rescinding the appointment, except in the case of charges of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance. Additionally, five members who have been confirmed by the Missouri Senate must be present to establish a quorum and no official actions may be taken unless a majority of the Board, all of whom have received the advice and consent of the Senate, vote therefor. This bill addresses issues with the State Board of Education while also ensuring the same standards apply to other state boards and commissions.
I truly believe that if qualified and competent people are willing to serve on our state’s boards and commissions, they should be able to do so without fear of retribution if they do not vote a certain way. The recent appointments by the governor have created a culture of distrust and we must ensure that the constitutional process is respected and carried out in a transparent manner. Senate Bill 794 was heard by the Missouri Senate’s Government Reform Committee this week.
My staff and I welcomed visitors from the district including Debbie Tarvid, Samantha Gamblin, Tammy Lindsay, Lynettte Rhodes, JoAnn Franklin, David Courtway, Greg Roeback, Kent Scism and Dr. Barron Pratte.
I was also very pleased to meet Alyssa Reynolds, a third grader from Roosevelt Elementary in Farmington, and her parents Trent and Angela Reynolds. Alyssa won a MO Arts Council award and I am honored to have her art work hang in my Capitol office.
I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org; or www.senate.mo.gov/romine.
Missouri 3rd District State Senator Gary Romine, R-Ste. Genevieve, files his Capitol Report at the end of each week during the state legislative session.