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February 14, 2019

Fast Track legislation moves forward in House and Senate
On Tuesday, Feb. 12, the House debated HCS HB 225 (Swan), which creates the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant. Rep. Kathy Swan offered an amendment clarifying the income eligibility to be $80,000 for taxpayers who are married filing jointly and $40,000 for all other taxpayers. Rep. Swan’s amendment also removed language allowing the department to request the income tax return of an applicant’s parent since the grant is only available to individuals who are 25 or older. The amendment was adopted and the bill was perfected. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the House Fiscal Review committee on Feb. 18.

The same day, the Senate Education Committee, chaired by Sen. Gary Romine, went into executive session on SB 16 (Romine), which is the Senate’s version of the Fast Track grant. A Senate Committee Substitute was adopted by the committee with a similar income eligibility clarification as the House and a provision stating that renewal students would be given priority for awards. The committee voted the bill out 6-2, with Sens. Bob Onder and Ed Emery voting no, and Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin voting present.
House Veterans Committee votes out bill modifying the Missouri Returning Heroes Act
The House Veterans Committee, chaired by Rep. Chuck Bayse, went into executive session on Wednesday, Feb. 19, to vote on HB 400 (Bayse). The bill changes the Missouri Returning Heroes Education Act by prohibiting any public institution of higher education from charging combat veterans more than 30 percent of the cost of tuition and fees for any program leading to a graduate degree. The veteran must have been a Missouri resident when first entering the military or entered military service in Missouri. A House Committee substitute was adopted, but is not yet available online. The committee passed the bill by a vote of 13-0.

The committee also received testimony on HB 715 (Lynch), which removes the sunset provision on the Wartime Veteran’s Survivors Grant Program administered by the department. The Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City testified in support of the bill.

House committee hears bill modifying the A+ Program
The House Higher Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Dean Dohrman, received testimony Monday, Feb. 11, on HB 498 (Windham) and HB 732 (Mayhew). The two bills are identical and modify the A+ Schools Program by making the program a first-dollar program, instead of a last-dollar program, meaning that the award would be applied before any federal, private, or other state sources of funding have been applied. Testifying in support of the bill was Laura Winter, St. Louis Graduates. Testifying in opposition to the bill was Chris Roepe, Missouri Community College Association. Testifying for informational purposes was Paul Wagner, Council on Public Higher Education.

The committee also received testimony on HB 105 (Justus), which establishes the “Private College Campus Protection Act.” The bill allows private institutions of higher education to appoint persons to be members of a campus police department. Testifying in support of the bill were Kurt McDonald, College of the Ozarks, and Bill Gamble, Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri.

House Budget Committee hears higher education budget
On Tuesday, Feb. 12, Commissioner Zora Mulligan and her staff presented the FY 2020 higher education budget request and Governor’s recommendations to the House Budget Committee. Questions on the $1.3 billion higher education budget focused on workforce initiatives, the proposed transfer of the Division of Workforce Development and the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center from the Department of Economic Development to the Department of Higher Education, Fast Track, other state financial aid programs, and the public higher education institution funding. The hearing was recorded and is available on the House website for viewing. Watch the morning hearing here. Watch the afternoon hearing here.            

Next Wednesday, Feb. 20, the House Subcommittee on Appropriations for Education will begin mark-up of the higher education budget. During this hearing, the subcommittee generally makes change to the Governor’s budget and drafts the House version on the FY 2020 spending bills.
House Budget Committee takes up capital spending bills
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the House Budget Committee began the process of reviewing the appropriations for capital projects, including re-authorization of spending authority for projects previously approved, but not yet completed. Information was requested from MDHE regarding the current status of previously approved projects for public higher education institutions.

Missouri Department of Higher Education
P.O. Box 1469
Jefferson City, MO 65102
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