(The Center Square) – Missouri Republican Gov. Mike Parson highlighted several enhancements to higher education and workforce development in an omnibus education bill he signed into law on Thursday, along with five other bills.
Senate Bill 718, sponsored by Sen. Barbara Washington, D-Kansas City, designates the third week of September as Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) week to recognize all those institutions, including Lincoln University in Jefferson City and Harris Stowe State University in St. Louis.
“Missourians are proud that our state is home to two Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and this legislation will help bring awareness and deserving recognition to these institutions,” Parson said in a statement. “Additionally, this bill helps us move forward with our workforce development goals to ensure Missouri has a skilled and capable labor force.”
The new law authorizes university representatives to assist student-athletes with opportunities to earn compensation from a third party for using their name, image and likeness (NIL). It expands a required financial development program for the athletes to include information on financial aid, academic resources, time and debt management and a budget based on the cost of attending the university.
“What began as a bill to bring more awareness and attention to our two HBCUs has grown into a more impactful piece of legislation that will improve all of higher education,” Washington said in a statement. “I’m proud to carry legislation that will make NILs easier for our athletes; that will provide more dual credit opportunities; and create the workforce diploma program for our high school graduates.”
The Workforce Diploma Program will assist students in obtaining a high school diploma and developing career and technical skills through campus-based, online or blended instruction.
The law created the “Dual Credit and Dual Enrollment Scholarship Act” for high school students to take approved courses at higher education institutions, and provides a scholarship for all tuition and fees. Previously, only 50% of tuition and fees – up to $500 annually – were covered by the scholarship.
The new law creates a tax credit for medical school instructors who serve 120 hours or more as a community-based faculty preceptor, a physician or physician assistant who volunteers to give personal instruction, training and supervision to a medical student. The credit is $1,000 for each preceptorship up to a maximum of $3,000 per year.
The law also requires high schools to offer a minimum of one computer science course. It mandates public higher education institutions to post suicide and crisis phone numbers on student identification cards. The law also provides those with Missouri 529 college savings plans protection from creditors during bankruptcy proceedings.
Highlights of other bills signed into law were:
Senate Bill 799: The offense of escaping from custody is modified to address those being held for parole or probation violations.
House Bill 2162: The Department of Health and Senior Services may issue a standing order for Naltrexone for opioid and alcohol use disorders. The Department of Corrections and Judiciary will have access to the Opioid Addiction Fund if appropriated by the legislature.
Senate Bill 725: The ground ambulance reimbursement allowance is modified to allow ambulance districts to maintain up to $10 million in provider tax funding.
House Bill 1472: The state money laundering statute was modified to account for cryptocurrencies and other new technologies.
Senate Bill 655: Emergency telecommunications, jailers and emergency management services employees working for local governments can enter the Local Government Employees Retirement System pension.