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House Defeats SMS Name Change Bill

February 11, 2004
By: Missy Shelton
State Capital Bureau

By a vote of 81 to 70, the Missouri House defeated the bill that would have changed the name of SMSU to Missouri State University.

Missy Shelton reports from Jefferson City.

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Springfield Repreentative BJ Marsh says he had hoped this would be one fight he would win.

But Jim Baker, the Assistant to the President at SMS, says he wasn't surprised by the defeat.

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One hundred representatives signed on with BJ Marsh as co-sponsors of the bill that would drop the regional designation from the name Southwest Missouri State University.

But in the last two weeks, some of those lawmakers withdraw their support for various reasons.

Marsh blames a controversial deal brokered in the senate that ties the name change bill to a bond proposal benefiting the University of Missouri system.

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Under the agreement between name change supporters and opponents in the senate, the name change bill won't move forward until lawmakers send the governor a bill authorizing bonds for the MU system.

In response to the defeat of the name change in the House, Senate President Pro Temp Peter Kinder says he's not losing hope.

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Opponents of the name change spent more than 11 hours spread out over two days talking about why they believe the proposal is bad public policy.

Before the House cast the final vote on the measure, Republican Brian Pratt of suburban Kansas City urged lawmakers to consider the financial implications of supporting the name change.

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Likewise, Columbia Democrat Vicki Wilson warned lawmakers that the name change could cause major problems within the state's higher education system.

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So, at least for now, bill sponsor B-J Marsh says the opponents have won.

But he says it's not over.

He says the senate bill is still alive, though its fate lies with the fate of another, equally-cotroversial bill.

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