Sen. Gary Nodler, R-Joplin, on Wednesday presented the Senate with a somewhat revised version of his higher education bill that includes the governor's plan to sell the assets of the Missouri Higher Education Loan Authority.
Debates about Nodler's bill began Tuesday when he offered an amendment to include a list of building projects to the bill, including five of the buildings that were taken out last week. Those buildings are the projects that could possibly be used for stem cell research. With debate drawn out into the early afternoon, the bill was never put to a vote.
The Senate's Democratic Leader, Maida Coleman, D-St. Louis, supported Nodler's proposed restoration of the six buildings to his bill. Though Coleman previously said that the Democrats might filibuster this bill, on Wednesday she did not indicate that her party has any intentions of doing that.
"The goal is to work with Sen. Nodler and come up with a piece of legislation that everybody can be happy with," she said. "Of course, the Democrats' main objection to this legislation is that it doesn't do what MOHELA was created for, and that is to provide low interest loans to our students. We need to provide educational opportunities and taking off a portion of MOHELA and selling it does not meet the guidelines that MOHELA was created under."
Though she said that's the main concern about Nodler's bill, she said Democrats have also realized that it is important to fund the buidlings that were restored to the bill on Wednesday. However, Nodler said those building could be taken out of the bill again.
"That could still be lost or something else could be brought up in the process," Nodler said. Debates are expected to continue through next week.
Along with restoring the building projects, Nodler's altered version changes the tuition cap to include a more complex formula that is unique to each university. His changes also give the Coordinating Board a hands-on role with punishing universities. Under the bill, the board can decide how much to fine a university if tutition is too high.
A clause in the bill would also halt funding to all of the buildings supported by the sale of MOHELA assets if any part of the sale is deemed unconstitutional.
Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, last week challenged the constitutionality of placing stem cell research limitations on the buildings.