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Politics

SMS Name Change Legislation

http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/smsnamecha_208.mp3

State lawmakers who support changing the name of Southwest Missouri State University will pre-file the name change bill today. It's the first day lawmakers can pre-file bills for the legislative session that begins January 5th. KSMU's Missy Shelton spoke with supporters and opponents of the name change and files this report.

EFFORTS TO CHANGE THE NAME OF S-M-S TO MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY HAVE FAILED IN PREVIOUS LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS.

IN THE LAST SESSION, THE HOUSE VOTED DOWN THE NAME CHANGE...IN THE SENATE, THE PROPOSAL GAINED FIRST ROUND APPROVAL IN THE SENATE BUT THEN STALLED AND NEVER CAME TO A FINAL VOTE.

SPRINGFIELD SENATOR NORMA CHAMPION SAYS THE NAME CHANGE IS LONG OVERDUE BECAUSE THE SCHOOL HAS EVOLVED INTO A STATEWIDE INSTITUTION...SHE SAYS THE SCHOOL NEEDS A NAME THAT REFLECTS THOSE CHANGES.

OPPOSITION COMES PRIMARILY FROM LAWMAKERS WHOSE DISTRICTS INCLUDE THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA.

COLUMBIA'S SENATOR-ELECT CHUCK GRAHAM SAYS M-U IS THE TRUE MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY.

GRAHAM IS REFERING TO THE WORDS MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY WHICH ARE CARVED INTO THE STONE OF THE CAPITOL BUILDING NEAR THE ROTUNDA.

BUT CHAMPION SAYS PRIOR TO ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE S-M-S TO MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY, M-U HAD NEVER LAID CLAIM TO THAT NAME.

PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO CHANGE NAME OF S-M-S MET OPPOSITION FROM THEN-COLUMBIA SENATOR KEN JACOB.

HE REPEATEDLY FILLIBUSTERED THE PROPOSAL AND SUCCEEDED IN BLOCKING IT.

SENATOR-ELECT CHUCK GRAHAM SAYS HE WILL DO THE SAME IF HE CAN'T CONVINCE LAWMAKERS TO VOTE AGAINST IT.

GRAHAM ISN'T THE ONLY ONE PROMISING TO PLAY HARDBALL.

NORMA CHAMPION SAYS SHE WON'T SUPPORT PROJECTS THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI WANTS COMPLETED AS LONG AS THE SCHOOL OPPOSES THE S-M-S NAME CHANGE.

AND CHAMPION SAYS ONE PERSON SHOULD NOT STAND IN THE WAY OF A PROPOSAL THAT HAS WIDESPREAD SUPPORT.

BUT GRAHAM SAYS IT'S JUST THIS SORT OF APPROACH TO GOVERNING THAT HURTS ALL INSTUTITIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

HE SAYS LAWMAKERS SHOULD FOCUS ON THE ISSUES THAT UNITE THEM.

BUT NORMA CHAMPION SAYS NOW IS THE TIME TO CHANGE THE NAME OF S-M-S SINCE 2005 IS THE CENTENNIAL YEAR FOR THE SCHOOL.

SHE SAYS SHE'D LIKE TO SEE THE BILL CLEAR THE LEGISLATURE EARLY IN THE SESSION SO THE GOVERNOR CAN SIGN IT IN SPRINGFIELD ON MARCH 17TH...THAT'S THE ONE HUNDRED YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE DAY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AUTHORIZED THE CREATION OF STATE NORMAL SCHOOL NUMBER 4, THE SCHOOL NOW KNOWN AS SOUTHWEST MISSOURI STATE UNIVERSITY.