State News Briefs

SMSU name change passes both chambers

After years of filibusters and compromises, the proposed name change for Southwest Missouri State University to Missouri State University has passed both the House and Senate.

Gov. Matt Blunt, who is from Springfield, supported the change.

“The name of Missouri State University will more accurately reflect SMS’s current role,” Blunt said. “I look forward to signing this legislation.”

The bill also means Missouri Southern can officially drop Joplin as part of its name.

The name changes will take effect on Aug. 28, 2005.

First Steps program off funding chopping block

Weeks after proposing funding allocation reductions for the First Steps program which would have led to more than 8,000 developmentally disabled Missouri infants and toddlers losing access to a program offering early intervention services, Gov. Matt Blunt announced plans for a new First Steps program.

Blunt’s revisions include a proposed change to state law requiring insurance companies to cover the most common services provided to children with developmental disabilities, a modest family cost participation scale for those who can financially afford to pay and a regionalized plan to improve the delivery of services by providers.

Blunt’s plan will require insurance companies to cover services most used by First Steps eligible children such as physical services, occupational therapy, speech therapy and assistive technology. This program will also continue to access Medicaid to cover eligible children.

Sen. Michael Gibbons (R-St. Louis County) and Rep. Brad Lager (R-Maryville) have each introduced legislation to reform and save the First Steps program.

Librarian scholarships available for students

Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced March 1 another round of scholarships will be awarded to qualified Missourians pursuing graduate and undergraduate degrees as professional librarians.

The Missouri State Library, a division of Carnahan’s office, is now accepting new applications for the Fall 2005 semester. The program was developed as an effort to address Missouri’s increasing need for qualified school, public and academic librarians.

“Our public libraries are an important part of educating our citizens and keeping our communities vibrant and strong,” Carnahan said. “I am pleased that we can provide these scholarships because investing in our future librarians means investing in the future of our communities.”

Missouri State Library scholarships cover tuition and applicable fees at colleges and universities in Missouri. Scholarship recipients must commit to work in a publicly funded Missouri library upon graduation.

Scholarship recipients are selected based on the strength of their applications, transcripts, references and interviews. The deadline to apply is April 1.

Applicant criteria and application forms are available at

Conservation sales tax subject of resolution

Sen. John Cauthorn (R-Mexico) has introduced Senate Joint Resolution 3 to put the issue of continuing the conservation sales tax to the voters.

The proposed resolution would amend article IV of the Constitution of the state of Missouri to put the question of continuing the one-eighth of one-percent sales tax to the voters every 10 years, beginning in 2008.

The sales tax, added to the constitution in 1976, has enhanced the Missouri Department of Conservation. Prior to the passage of the sales tax, the department was primarily funded by hunting, fishing and trapping permits.

For Fiscal Year 2004, the sales tax raised over $93 million of the department’s $151 million budget. Permit sales accounted for just over $29 million of the budget.

Cauthorn presented the resolution to the Senate Agriculture, Conservation, Parks and Natural Resources Committee on March 2.