via STOM Legislative Liaison, Brian Crouse
The 2021 Missouri Legislative Session proved challenging due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The following summary recaps the legislation put forth this session that either crossed the finish line as signed into law, or, that did not make it through session, but may have been of interest to members of STOM.
HB 297 – Institutions of Higher Education or Student Right to Know Act – Rep. Wallingford –Signed into Law by Governor
Requires the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development (DHEWD) to annually collect and compile specified information to help high school students make more informed decisions about their futures and ensure they are adequately aware of the costs of four-year colleges and alternative career paths. Documentation must be distributed to public school guidance counselors by October 15th of each year.
Changes the name of the “Missouri Education Savings Program” to the “Missouri Education Program” and allows for funds saved under a state 529 program to be allocated for use in vocational education and apprenticeship programs. Modifies Missouri state 529 provisions to match the federal changes for state 529 plans.
The state board of education shall develop a statewide plan for career and technical education (CTE) that ensures sustainability, viability, and relevance by matching workforce needs with appropriate educational resources. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall convene workgroups to develop written model curriculum frameworks relating to CTE program areas that may be used by school districts. (Initially proposed in HB-896 by Rep. Black)
Designates Southeast Missouri State University (SEMO) as an institution with a statewide mission in visual and performing arts, computer science, and cybersecurity.
Harris-Stowe State University can successfully discharge a statewide mission in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) for underrepresented and under resourced students.
HB 349 – Establishes the Missouri Empowerment Scholarship Accounts Program – Rep. Christofanelli –Signed into Law by Governor
Specifies that any taxpayer may claim a tax credit, not to exceed 50% of the taxpayer's state tax liability, for any qualifying contribution to an educational assistance organization. The cumulative amount of tax credits issued in any one calendar year begins at $50 million and may be adjusted by the state treasurer annually based upon inflation with a maximum cap of $75 million.
Two other bills that were of interest to members of STOM that did not pass, but could be reintroduced in the next legislative session in 2022.
HB 320 - Expands Provisions of Computer Science Courses – Rep. Fitzwater –- Did Not PassHB 588 - 21st Century Education Task Force – Rep. Riggs – Did Not Pass