Nursing Education Incentive Program bill passes through Missouri House

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June 23, 2017

Partisanship aside, Missouri House Democrats and Republicans came together in unanimous support of combined House Bills 223 and 231, pertaining to a new Nursing Education Incentive Program for higher education.

House Bill 231 would make grants of $500 available to Missouri high school seniors who receive college scholarships under the A+ or Access Missouri scholarship programs and who scored at least a 3 on two or more science and math Advanced Placement exams, according to the revised version of the bill and its sponsor, Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau.

The second portion of the combined bill package, House Bill 223, would allow public and private colleges across the state of Missouri to apply for grants to increase faculty on their nursing education staffs.

“The schools themselves will be able to apply for grant awards,” Wallingford said. “There’s a critical need to have nurses now more than ever.”

The grants will be funded from the Board of Nursing, which is housed under the Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration at the state level.

“Over the year, the state Board of Nursing fund has collected about $3 million, and you can’t really send it back to the nurses, so I thought this would be a way to kind of give the nurses feedback on a good program,” Wallingford said.

One school will be allowed to receive a maximum of one grant per year, and many applications are capped at $150,000.

Wallingford said the criteria that will be used to determine what schools should be allotted grant money will be determined by the Department of Higher Education and the Board of Nursing. He said he did not want to tie their hands with stipulating specific criteria schools had to meet.

“Certainly the minority side of the aisle is willing to support legislation when its good legislation,” Rep. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis, said of the bipartisan effort.

Schupp said they have heard about nursing shortages from people on the House floor and from those in the nursing field.

“The overall goal is to encourage expansion of our nursing programs at our colleges and universities,” Schupp said.

Bills are sometimes paired together when they apply to the same topic, which was the case with House Bills 223 and 231, and they were voted on at the same time. They will now be passed onto the Senate, which Wallingford said he believes they will get to before the legislative session closes in the middle of May.

“It’s my understanding that it will give MU the opportunity to fund one or two additional nursing students a year,” Rep. Mary Still, D-Columbia, said. “It’s not a lot, but it’s a move in the right direction. We need all the nurses we can get.”

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