University status makes strides

Gary Nodler

Gary Nodler

Virginia Fairchild

The Missouri Southern name change is a hop, skip and jump away from becoming reality.

The name change bill has sidestepped two more obstacles on its journey to becoming law. Senate Bill 55, sponsored by Sen. Gary Nodler (R-Joplin) and House Bill 173 sponsored by Rep. Bryan Stevenson (R-Joplin). have both been moved to the floor of their respective chambers.

The bill must pass through both the House and the Senate before it can go to the governor’s desk to be signed into law or vetoed.

On the Senate side, the name change bill has been placed ninth on the formal calendar. Nodler said it’s hard to tell the actual day the bill will be debated on the floor, but he suspects it will hit in the next two weeks.

“We’ve had a pattern of extended debate on every bill that’s hit the floor,” he said. “I’m confident we have the votes to pass it. The question is whether we can get it past this debate mechanism that’s out there.”

Nodler said some of the main people he believes are involved in the debate want the tobacco securitization bill “brought forward with some urgency.” That bill is expected to follow the name changes.

Having such an urgent bill following the name change, Nodler said, might work to Southern’s advantage and serve as a “disincentive for them to do the delaying tactic.”

“The timing could work for us,” he said.

Also included in Senate Bill 55 is the alteration of the residency for the College’s Board of Regents.

“The residency territory right now is too restrictive,” Nodler said. “It’s the old Jasper County Junior College district.”

He said having such a narrow area to attain regents is a disadvantage to people in surrounding areas who are also involved in the College.

“It denies the College the opportunity to have some outstanding regents from other areas,” Nodler said. “For those communities to not be able to participate in the governance of the school is not right.”

Members of the Board of Regents are appointed by the governor with the consent of the area’s senator.

On the House side, Stevenson said he’s unsure of the specific day his bill to change Southern’s name will hit the floor. He is expecting it next week.

“There’s a lot of issues coming up that are going to take a lot of time, so I’m not really sure when that bill will come up on the floor,” he said.

His confidence the bill will pass through the House has only strengthened with the news of the Senate committee approval.

“I have a very good feel that this year is the year to make it happen,” Stevenson said.