by Maria Benevento, The Kansas City Beacon
(2023 Missouri higher education bills to watch – The Beacon (kcbeacon.org))
Expanding loan repayment programs, exempting students from hazing charges if they assist during an emergency, and making school IDs valid for voting are some of the higher education bills being proposed in the Missouri legislature.
The next legislative session starts Jan. 4, but representatives and senators are already filing the proposed laws that they will debate during the first months of 2023.
As of Dec. 16, the Missouri House categorized 10 bills as related to either higher education or the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, excluding duplicates that appear in both categories. The Missouri Senate indexed 13 bills in those categories, excluding duplicates.
There’s no guarantee that any of these bills will receive an initial hearing, much less be discussed by the full House or Senate or signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson. Legislation can also be amended, sometimes dramatically, at several stages in the process.
The Beacon has compiled a list of some of the higher education proposals that have already been filed so you can get a sense of what’s on legislators’ minds.
Elementary and secondary education is an even more popular topic this year, with more than 100 bills filed in the legislature. Keep an eye out for roundups of K-12 education bills coming soon.
If you have strong opinions on these issues, you can contact your representative or senator.
Restricting transgender athletes from playing on teams that match their gender identity
One of the most popular education topics in both houses for the upcoming session is requiring student athletes to play on sports teams that match their gender assigned at birth. Many of the bills are branded as the Save Women’s Sports Act.
Some versions of the proposal would require students (or the parents of minor students) to sign affidavits regarding their sex assigned at birth and would allow lawsuits against schools that break the law. For more detail, see our earlier reporting.
Version of the proposal that apply to higher education include:
Several proposals are focused on help with tuition or loan repayment to encourage new professionals to work in underserved regions or roles.
Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, filed legislation to modify the Advantage Missouri Program to apply to teachers who work in high-need public or charter schools. Advantage Missouri provides loans and loan forgiveness for workers in high-demand areas.
This story was originally published by The Kansas City Beacon, an online news outlet focused on local, in-depth journalism in the public interest.