JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri Senate unanimously passed legislation Wednesday that, if it clears the House, would allow the University of Missouri Curators to throw out one of their own members for absenteeism.
The legislation would replace the existing law which provides for removal of a curator who misses just one meeting - unless there were grave circumstances such as illness.
According to Jim Snider, lobbyist for the University System, the existing law was established in 1850, when there was only one curator meeting a year in which all the business was done. Now curators meet eight to 10 times a year.
In the past 30 years the law hasn't been enforced because "I don't think anyone was aware of it," Snider said.
Sen. Jim Mathewson, D-Sedalia, said he sponsored the bill because "I thought the law was antiquated."
"If the governor appoints a person to do a job and the Senate confirms them, we ought to let them do it."
Curator Mary Gillespie said she supports the Senate's actions, but said she never had a problem with the existing law because "I've never missed a meeting."
Unlike Gillespie, a majority of members have missed meetings said Woody Cozad, current president of the board.
"In the last 18 months, if you've enforced that statute, there hasn't been a board," Cozad said.
Cozad said he also doesn't expect attendance to go down if curators are allowed to establish their own attendance policies.
"This is a demanding job for which people are not paid," Cozad said. "Attendance has been extremely good."
A similar bill is before the Missouri House. The bill's sponsor, Ted Farnen, D-Mexico, said it may be voted on in a week or two.