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A few of the bills I have sponsored during the 2019 legislative session are moving through the legislative process.

Senate Bill 17 allows individuals retired from the Public School Retirement System of Missouri (PSRS) to continue receiving their retirement allowance while employed at a public community college. Under current law, individuals employed by public community colleges are unintentionally excluded from receiving their retirement allowance. I have also asked for and received Consent status on this legislation. Consent means it is non-controversial and amendments cannot be added to the bill. After receiving approval from the Missouri Senate, SB 17 was heard this week by the Missouri House of Representatives’ Pensions Committee. I am pleased that this bill is moving, and I am hopeful that it will reach the governor’s desk before the end of session.

The first meeting of the Joint Committee on Education was held Monday, Feb. 18. My fellow committee members and I were pleased to hear a presentation from our executive director, Dr. Kevin Gwaltney, concerning liberal arts education and its relation to computer science curriculum. Liberal arts education develops problem solving and critical thinking skills and cultivates a student’s ability to think independently. These skills are essential for success in any job, but especially in the computer science field. Computer science and IT jobs are in high demand in Missouri. Offering computer science courses in high school encourages students to enter this field and fill these jobs. I want to see Missouri become a leader in the computer science industry, and I look forward to the expansion of computer science curriculum in our state’s schools.

On Feb. 19, Senate Bill 259 was heard by the Senate’s Education Committee. This legislation would ensure due process rights in Title IX proceedings at institutions of higher education, both public and private. This act gives any individual the right to defend themselves at a formal hearing and allows either the claimant or respondent to appeal the university’s decision to the administrative hearing commission if necessary during a Title IX complaint. In the last five years, more than 300 lawsuits across the nation have been filed against universities for violating due process rights following a Title IX complaint. I believe this legislation could save higher education institutions money by keeping our institutions in line with the proposed Title IX rules at the federal level and by reducing the number of lawsuits brought against institutions.

This legislation does not favor the claimant or respondent, but rather provides a fair, equitable process to adjudicate Title IX complaints. It is imperative that higher education institutions respect the due process rights of both the accuser and the accused in Title IX proceedings. I look forward to further discussing SB 259 with my colleagues as it moves through the legislative process.

Capitol Visits

I always appreciate hearing your opinions and concerns regarding your state government. 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 gary.romine@senate.mo.gov. For more information, please visit my official Senate webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/romine.

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