Sep. 24, 2015 – Weekly Capitol Update

NIXON TO SEEK BIG FUNDING BOOST FOR HIGHER EDUCATION

Gov. Jay Nixon on Sept. 21 said he will include a 6 percent increase for Missouri’s public colleges and universities when he presents his fiscal year 2017 proposed budget to the General Assembly in January. However, some Republicans, who control the legislature, which ultimately writes the budget, are skeptical the state will be able to afford the $55.7 million price tag of the Democratic governor’s plan.

In exchange for the increase, which would bring total annual state funding for higher education to $985 million, Nixon said public college and university officials have agreed to freeze tuition for the 2016-2017 school year. Nixon has struck several similar tuition-freeze deals since taking office in 2009. As a result, Nixon said tuition at Missouri’s public colleges and universities has increased an average of just 7 percent since 2009, compared to the national average of 29 percent during that period.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Flanigan, R-Carthage, told The Associated Press such a large increase for higher education “is likely to take a back seat” to other spending needs. State Rep. Scott Fitzpatrick, R-Shell Knob and the committee’s vice chairman, made similar comments in an interview with Missourinet.

 

LAW PROFESSOR CHALLENGES UM SYSTEM’S GUN BAN

A University of Missouri-Columbia law professor on Sept. 22 filed a lawsuit challenging the gun ban in place on the UM System’s four campuses, claiming the system’s policy violates his constitutional right to keep and bear arms for self-protection. In the case, filed in Cole County Circuit Court, Royce de R. Barondes is asking for an injunction prohibiting UM System officials from taking action against people with valid conceal-carry permits who bring concealed weapons on university property.

Although state law allows the carrying of conceal weapons on one’s person to be prohibited in certain places, universities among them, the law specifically says concealed weapons may be lawfully kept in a secure vehicle at such places. Barondes, who teaches a course on firearms law, says the blanket prohibition on firearms being allowed anywhere on university property is in direct conflict with state law and invalid.

Barondes further maintains the policy violates his rights under the Missouri Constitution to carry a concealed weapon on his person on campus. Last year Missouri voters amended the gun rights provision of the state constitution to, among other changes, remove an existing provision that the right to keep and bear arms didn’t include the right to carry a concealed weapon. The University of Missouri Board of Curators and UM System President Timothy Wolfe are named as defendants in the case.