Senate Bill 389 on fast track to House

Parker Willis

After nearly three months of debate, Senate Bill 389 has finally made it out of the Senate and is on its way to the House.

The bill was third read and voted out of the Senate on April 25 and was first read before the end of the day in the House.

It would give Missouri Southern funding for a health sciences building among other upgrades. Southern will also receive $179,000 for a long-distance dental learning site in Sikeston and a $400,000 budget increase for funding distance learning.

“Southern is getting a 7.2 percent budget increase, which is the largest increase of any university in the state,” said Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin), the bill’s sponsor. “There will also be seed money for a research center for micro-capacity. It’s a collaborative between Eagle-Picher Corporation, Missouri Technology Corporation, Missouri Southern, University of Missouri-Rolla, University of Missouri-Columbia and Missouri State.”

A recently added amendment will double the Bright Flight scholarship from $2,000 a year to $4,000.

The bill also introduces the Access Missouri Scholarship that will replace the Gallagher and Guarantee needs-based scholarships.

“The number of scholarships in Access Missouri will go from 180 to 900 on Southern’s campus,” Nodler said.

He said there is also language that would make entry-level courses transferable to all accredited Missouri public institutions. Another section will require institutions to post online information about faculty, this will include whether a professor or a graduate will be teaching the course. There is also a section that will keep institutions from raising their tuition above national CPI.

But with all of the provisions it is unclear as to how much the bill will change in the House.

“I think we’ll see some of the same arguments made over here that we heard on the other side,” said Rep. Carl Bearden (R-St. Charles). “But our rules are different over here. You only get 15 minutes to talk. And that’s a lot less time to filibuster. I think there will be a number of amendments offered, but hopefully we can defeat all of them. I’ve read the bill and understand the bill. I think it’s in good shape.”

He said he believes the debate will only last a day in the House when it does make it to the floor for perfection. But if the bill is amended it will have to go to a joint committee, and then be presented back before both bodies before being presented to the Governor.