MOHELA compromise encouraged by Republicans
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MOHELA compromise encouraged by Republicans

Date: March 13, 2007
By: Sarah D. Wire
State Capitol Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Senate Republicans met with Democrats Tuesday in an attempt to reach a compromise on the future of the MOHELA sale after Democrats succeeded in blocking a vote on the issue during a fourteen hour filibuster.

Democrats said the original intent of the bill has been "gutted" and without compromise from the Republican party they will continue the filibuster that began Monday night.

Following the filibuster, Senate leaders from both parties met behind closed doors with MOHELA lobbyists and a representative from the governor's office to try to reach a compromise.

Democratic Floor Leader Maida Coleman, D- St. Louis, said that although some compromise had been made, Democrats were still not fully satisfied with the agreement.

"It will either come back as a negotiated end or if we can't come to an agreement, we'll fight it on the floor as a filibuster," Coleman said.

Hours later, the governor attended a separate closed door meeting in the Senate Republican Pro-tem's office.

"We're making progress," Gov. Matt Blunt said. "We're a lot closer then we were."

In brief comments with reporters, the governors said there were limits to what he would accept from a compromise.

"Anything is not OK but I think there's a lot of acceptable solutions," Blunt said.

Since Blunt announced the sale, the proposal has faced many roadblocks including state anti-abortion groups voicing opposition to buildings paid for by the sale being used to house stem cell research, the ability of the loan agency to provide low-cost loans in the future, and most recently two  former UM-System Curators contesting the legality of the sale.

Regardless, Blunt said he feels good about the chance that the bill will pass and the sale will be completed.

The list of buildings built through proceeds of the MOHELA  sale was changed last week including the loss of $56.2 million for buildings on  the UM-Columbia Campus to meet objections voiced by stem-cell research opponents.

Coleman said there is no way to return to the original projects list.

Senator Jolie Justus, D- Kansas City, said part of the problem is ninety-nine percent of the negotiations about the MOHELA bill has been centered around the projects list and the changes to the list have affected the initial intent of the project.

"We have completely gutted the original purpose of the bill, which was to create in Missouri the unique opportunity for the development of life sciences and biology development." Justus said.