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House Committee Approves SMS Name Change

The SMS name change proposal that would make the Springfield school Missouri State University gained overwhelming support from a House committee. Some lawmakers say bill opponents from the University of Missouri hurt their cause with their testimony at the public hearing on the bill. KSMU's Missy Shelton reports.

The bill cleared the House Higher Education Committee by a vote of 10 to 1.

But before lawmakers voted, they heard testimony from name change supporters and opponents.

Some lawmakers say the comments of a journalism professor from the University of Missouri and an MU student made them angry.

Representative Scott Rupp is an alumnus of MU.

He says the first three name change opponents who spoke presented their cases in a professional manner'It was the professor and the student who angered Rupp.

One of the comments that angered Rupp came from MU Journalism Professor James Sterling.

Lawmakers say they didn't mind hearing Sterling's concerns that the bill might take funding away from MU and other state schools.

But during the public hearing on the name change bill, Sterling said Governor Matt Blunt used threats to get MU officials to call off legislative opponents.

The governor's office calls Sterling's assertion quote-an absolute lie.

Several Republican committee members also took exception to Sterling's remarks and those of MU student Greg Chase.

Like Sterling, Chase expressed concerns that the bill will hurt MU by taking away funding and prestige.

Chase told lawmakers it would be wrong for them to change the name of SMS.

The hard sell from MU student Greg Chase and MU professor James Sterling did not have the intended effect on one lawmaker, Representative Tim Flook.

Flook had been undecided but now says he'll support the SMS name change.

Representative Tim Flook graduated from the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

He says MU has hurt its cause and lost his vote.

Neither the student nor the professor is a registered lobbyists for the University of Missouri or the Alumni Association.

The bill now moves to the floor.