SMSU name bill advances to the Missouri House

Thursday, February 17, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 1:32 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 16, 2008

A bill that would drop the “Southwest” from Southwest Missouri State University’s name moved to the state House of Representatives on Wednesday for a first reading.

Senate Bill 98 passed, 25-7, its third and final reading in the Senate on Wednesday morning. Senators perfected the bill’s wording early Tuesday morning after an almost 14-hour filibuster.

Under the bill, SMSU cannot duplicate the University of Missouri system’s professional programs, seek land-grant status or the same research designations used in the system, or search for additional state funds as a result of the name change.

The bill will now be assigned to a House committee, most likely the Higher Education Committee. If it wins committee approval, the bill will go to the House floor. If it is not changed by the House, the bill will advance to Gov. Matt Blunt.

In a press release Tuesday, Blunt said he would make sure the bill is not delayed.

“I will continue to work with lawmakers in the days and weeks ahead to ensure that this important piece of legislation reaches my desk,” he said.

Sen. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, and several other Democratic senators delayed a vote on the bill during the Monday night filibuster until UM system President Elson Floyd sent Graham an e-mail shortly before 6 a.m. Tuesday . The e-mail encouraged Graham to stop fighting the bill.

“If the institution that you’re fighting for doesn’t want to fight, then it’s hard to carry on that fight yourself,” said Ted Farnen, Graham’s chief of staff.

Graham also spoke at Wednesday’s third reading, arguing that the bill was bad for higher education and all institutions of higher education except SMSU, Farnen said.

“I think Sen. Graham felt he got the best he could in a very bad bill,” Farnen said.

SMSU President John Keiser said he will continue to seek support for the bill from the House.

“We’re halfway there,” Keiser said. “We feel that we were able to persuade the Senate when it was being filibustered, and we have the same obligation in the House.”

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