Missouri Higher Education Bills to Watch Out for • Missouri Independent

This story was originally published by the Kansas City Beacon.

Expanding state financial aid programs, banning COVID-19 vaccine requirements on campus, and restricting racism and sexism classes are just a few of the subjects of the laws. on higher education proposed by the Missouri legislature.

The next legislative session begins on January 5, but representatives and senators are already tabling the bills they will debate in the first months of 2022.

There is no guarantee that any of these bills will be heard in committee, let alone discussed by the entire House or Senate or enacted by Governor Mike Parson. Legislation can also be changed, sometimes dramatically, at several stages of the process.

But we’ve compiled a list of some of the higher education proposals that have already been tabled so you can get a feel for what’s on the minds of lawmakers.

If you have strong opinions on these issues, you can contact your representative or senator.

Extending the impact of the Missouri A + scholarship program

When you consider the number of bills, how students pay for their education in Missouri is one of the most popular topics in higher education.

Lawmakers on both sides want to change the way the A + scholarship program is administered. The program offers a free community college to Missouri high school graduates who complete 50 hours of mentoring with young students and meet other requirements.

Rep. Brenda Shields, a Republican from St. Joseph, introduced a law (HB 1723) that would allow A + students who have completed an associate’s degree or equivalent without using more than $ 10,000 of A + d funds ” use the remaining dollars to earn a bachelor’s degree.

For example, a Kansas City-area student who is eligible for the Metropolitan Community College “in-district” tuition rate would pay $ 6,960 in tuition for the 60 credit hours needed for an associate’s degree, plus fees, and therefore could have funding left behind.

Representative Kevin Windham, a Democrat from Hillsdale in St. Louis County, introduced several bills allowing students to receive multiple types of financial aid at the same time.

For example, currently a student may do volunteer work for A + but receive no funding from the program because they will later receive a federal Pell grant to cover their tuition fees.

Windham’s legislation (HB 1786) would provide students with funding in addition to federal scholarships or (HB 1790) would apply A + dollars to education costs before other state, private, and federal funding.

Extend Access Missouri scholarships

The Access Missouri Financial Aid Program is available to students whose families can contribute $ 12,000 or less per year, as determined by the Free Federal Student Aid Application.

Windham is also proposing to expand the impact of Access Missouri.

Windham introduced legislation that would remove the requirements for the Access Missouri scholarships (HB 1784) to reduce the amount of all A + scholarships received, increase the number of semesters (HB 1788) a student can receive from Access Missouri money and increase the amount of scholarships (HB 1787) for the program.

Windham also wants to demand that the state release data on the demographics (HB 1785) of state scholarship recipients and prohibit colleges and universities from withholding transcripts (HB 1789) due to unpaid tuition fees. .

Non-traditional student and loan bills

Other financial aid legislation includes a bill sponsored by Senator Lincoln Hough, a Republican from Springfield, to expand the Fast Track Workforce Incentive Grant program for non-traditional students and allow it to cover learning costs ( SB 672).

Senator Bill White, a Republican from Joplin, introduced a bill to expand the state loan programs (SB 757) for health care students by increasing both the maximum loan amount and the eligible professions.

Finally, Representative Alan Gray, a Democrat from Black Jack in St. Louis County, wants to demand that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education come up with a pilot program called Pay Forward, Pay Back (HB 1822).

The program would offer free tuition fees to students in exchange for a binding agreement whereby they repay a percentage of their salary for a specific number of years.

Race and gender

Rep. Ann Kelley, a Republican from Lamar, proposed legislation that would prohibit any public school, including a college or university, from requiring “training or counseling in gender or sexual diversity.” The required training cannot include stereotypes or prejudices about race or gender.

The proposal would also prohibit college and university employees (HB 1484) from including a number of concepts in their courses, including:

  • This race or sex is superior or morally better.
  • Whether people are unconsciously racist or biased because of their race or gender.
  • Whether the concepts of “meritocracy” or “strong work ethic” are racist or sexist or were created to oppress another race.
  • That people should experience psychological distress, such as discomfort, angst, or guilt, because of their race or gender.

Senator Mike Moon, a Republican from Ash Grove, is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit students who were assigned to a male at birth from participating in school sports teams for women or girls (SB 781). This would prevent transgender women from playing on female or female sports teams.

The bill would apply to colleges and universities as well as colleges and high schools and would include private schools in competition with public schools.

COVID-19 vaccination requirements

Rep. Nick Schroer, a Republican from O’Fallon, submitted a proposal that would prohibit any publicly funded university from requiring COVID-19 vaccination or “gene therapy” (HB 1475) as a condition of admission, of employment or to be physically present during activities or installations.

The University of Missouri system, which spans four campuses including the University of Missouri-Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Columbia, recently stopped enforcing a federal vaccine rule that covered faculty, the staff and students. It still requires vaccines for healthcare workers and students who come into contact with patients.

Firearms on college property

Those with the proper permits could bring concealed weapons to public college and university campuses under this proposal from Rep. Chuck Basye, a Republican from Rocheport.

Currently, UM System regulations prohibit the carrying of firearms on campus in most cases. The policy was recently updated and does not prohibit firearms stored in vehicles.

The legislation would allow higher education institutions to implement certain firearms policies, but not if they generally prohibit the carrying, use or storage of concealed firearms on campus. Colleges and universities could not impose taxes, fees, or contractual provisions (HB 1751) that prohibit or discourage legal firearms.

Governance of higher education

The UM System Conservative Council and other governing bodies of public universities could add student voting members (HB 1795) under a bill proposed by Hillsdale Democrat Windham.

Currently, a non-voting student representative sits on the Council of Curators. Students at universities in the UM system could vote to start having student conservatives or to keep the system from having non-voting representatives.

Student Trustees would be appointed by the Governor like other Trustees and would have the same powers and responsibilities.

Abortion tax

Rep. Mike Haffner, a Republican from Pleasant Hill, sponsored a bill (HB 1874) that would mandate the endowment of any university affiliated with an abortion center, offer medical residences or scholarships offering training in the practice of abortions or supports facilities where abortions are performed when the mother’s life is not in danger.

Freedom of the press for students

Students would have the right to freedom of speech and of the press (HB 1668) in school-sponsored media under a proposal sponsored by Rep. Phil Christofanelli, a Republican from St. Peters.

The proposal would apply to public colleges and universities as well as high schools.

Colleges and universities could still encourage students to use “professional standards of English and journalism”.

Colleges could not sanction students for exercising freedom of expression unless they post libelous or defamatory material, break the law, violate privacy, incite to commit a crime, or are likely to disrupt operations. of the institution.

Media advisers cannot be fired or punished for refusing to violate the rights of students. Schools and employees also cannot be held responsible for school publications unless they have actively participated in the creation of the content.

Currently, student journalists do not have freedom of the press in school-sponsored media, according to a 1988 Supreme Court case involving a Missouri school district and students from Hazelwood South High School.

Advanced Placement Course Credit

A proposal from Rep. Chris Brown, a Republican from Kansas City, would require public colleges and universities to grant course credits (HB 1683) to students who score 3 or higher on advanced placement tests.

The Kansas City Beacon is an online medium focused on in-depth local journalism in the public interest.

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