“It’s an embarrassment. It is a fricking embarrassment,” Wolfe said of the legislative actions. Lawmakers are attempting to block the university from training the young people of the state to be leaders, he said. “I think they are going above and beyond what they should be focusing on,” Wolfe said. “Having the political leadership in Jefferson City decide what we teach on our campuses goes against our mission.”
JEFFERSON CITY – The Missouri House passed legislation aimed at shutting down an institute that trains women for roles in government and politics.
The amendment to House Committee Substitute for Senate Bill 455, which was approved Monday night by a 93-59 vote, specifically targets the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
The institute says its mission is to assist women in developing the interest and skills necessary to serve in elected office. Supporters of the institute say it is nonpartisan and contributes to diversity in government.
The amendment reads: Prohibits any public institution of higher education, political subdivision, quasi-governmental entity, or governmental entity from operating the sue shear institute for women in public life, any successor entity to it, or use utilize public funds for any other institute that engages in political activity. Any taxpayer of this state or member of the general assembly will have standing to bring suit against any governmental or quasi-governmental entity in violation of this provision.
The claim that this institute “churns out liberal trainees for Democrats” is untrue considering the number of Republican legislators who have used the services of this institute or been involved.
The following Republican women legislators currently serve on the Sue Shear 21st Century Leadership Academy Advisory Committee for 2012 : Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson, Representatives Ellen Campbell Brandom, Cloria Brown, Kathie Conway, Sue Entlicher, Sally Faith, Diane Franklin, Jeanie Lauer, Melissa Leach, Donna Lichtenegger, Jeanie Riddle and Anne Zerr.
The House measure comes after the Senate previously passed a version of the state budget that would ban funding for the institute. Lawmakers from the two chambers are still working on a final version of the budget. Critics argue the wording in the Senate bill is too broad and could have unintended consequences. For example, in addition to prohibiting the state from funding the Sue Shear Institute, it would also ban funding for organizations that engage in “training college women leaders. At its root, this amendment to SB 455 would stop all programs that “encourage women to seek public office.
Senate Appropriations Chairman Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican, said he would not allow the Sue Shear Institute language to pass.
“They can blow up the budget, take my chairmanship and move my seat to the middle of the Missouri River before I would ever agree to that,” he said.
Numerous Republican women support this institution. However a Republican woman Rep. Sue Allen offered the House amendment with the full support of Republican State Sen. Jane Cunningham .
Women leaders need to be supporting an organization that assists more women in taking office, regardless of their political party. Partisanship should not be an excuse for Republican legislators to limit the ability of women to run for more public office positions.
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