Blue Alert (SB34) Signed
In June, Governor Greitens signed Senate Bill 43, which include protections for our law enforcement officers.
As Missouri, as well as the nation, has seen violence against police on the upswing, I sponsored a handful of bills aimed at protecting those who protect and serve. One of these bills was House Bill 273, which increased the penalties for offenders that attack our officers for the mere fact that they wear a badge. As the session came to a close, this language found a home in Senate Bill 43.
Senate Bill 43 effectively increases criminal penalties for assaults on officers and establishes the Blue Alert system. This new program, similar to the Amber Alert system used for missing children, would notify the public in the event of a law enforcement officer being injured or killed.
The law also creates a new crime in Missouri of “illegal reentry.” This means that if an illegal alien is deported from the U.S., returns and commits a felony, they will be charged with this crime. The crime of illegal reentry will carry a Class C felony designation, with a punishment of up to seven years. The law also adds museums for children under the age of 18 to the list of public places which a sex offender is banned from.
While House Bill 273 may not have passed with the Governor’s signature on it, I am pleased that the language of the bill, and the protections for our men and women who protect and serve, is now law!
SPECIAL SESSION 2.0: PRO-LIFE
Lawmakers in the House heard debate late June and amended a piece of legislation sent over from the Senate, intended to ensure the health and safety of women by enacting common-sense safety requirements for abortion clinics. House members strengthened the version of the bill that was sent over from the Senate by adding several provisions originally called for by Governor Greitens, but stripped out by the Senate during floor debate.
One of the provisions added back into the bill by the House would prevent abortion clinic staff from requiring emergency responders to alter their normal response procedure by turning off lights or sirens. Another provision would allow the Attorney General to prosecute violations of state abortion laws. The House also provided for penalties on abortion clinics that do not comply with the requirements for fetal tissue after an abortion.
Some of the main provisions of the bill would:
- Allow the Department of Health and Senior Services to adopt rules governing complication plans to ensure patients undergoing abortions induced by drugs or chemicals have access to safe and reliable care;
- Require an abortion facility to provide affirmative evidence that each person authorized to perform abortions is a physician currently licensed to practice in Missouri;
- Allow the health department to adopt separate rules to apply to ambulatory surgical centers and to apply to abortion facilities, and ensure any abortion facility requirement is equal to any physical requirement of an ambulatory surgical center;
- Permit the health department to make an unannounced on-site inspection of any abortion facility at least annually; and
- Require that all tissue removed at the time of abortion be sent to a pathologist within seventy-two hours for examination.
The Governor called the special session to enact stronger safety regulations because of a court ruling which struck down Missouri’s law that required abortion providers to abide by the same regulations imposed on ambulatory surgical centers. The court also did away with a law that required a doctor providing an abortion to have privileges at a nearby hospital. Supporters say the regulations were necessary to ensure the safety and health of women using the facilities. They note that the Planned Parenthood facility in St. Louis has had to call an ambulance 58 times in the last seven years with 23 of the calls made to respond to hemorrhages as a complication of abortion. They also point out that the St. Louis facility was cited by the Department of Health and Senior Services more than 100 times from 2009 to 2016 for failure to provide a safe and sanitary environment.
Another provision of the bill addresses a city ordinance the governor says has turned St. Louis into an abortion sanctuary city. The St. Louis ordinance was put in place by the city to prevent employers and landlords from discriminating against women who have had an abortion, use birth control, or are pregnant. The governor has said the ordinance makes it so organizations like pregnancy care centers can’t work the way they’re supposed to. As the governor said, local politicians have tried to make it illegal for pro-life organizations to say that they just want to hire pro-life Missourians. The bill passed by the House acknowledges and protects the right of an “alternatives to abortion” agency to operate freely and engage in speech without governmental interference, and the right of a person not to be compelled by the government to participate in abortion contrary to his or her religious beliefs or moral convictions. In effect, the bill would pre-empt the St. Louis ordinance.
The legislation now moves back to the Senate where the other chamber will have the opportunity to pass the bill and send it to the governor’s desk. If the Senate refuses to take the House changes, the two bodies will likely send the bill to a conference committee where selected negotiators from both chambers will come together to work toward a compromise.
MO Army Deployment Ceremony
I was honored to attend the 279th Engineer Detachment, U.S. Army Reserve Deployment Ceremony.
These brave young men and women were deploying for the first time, aside friends and family. Thinking of the sacrifices our military makes in protecting our Country, our freedoms, and our lives, I am grateful that we have many individuals willing to lend their time and talents. I was incredibly honored to take part and wish all of them wishes of safe return.
Governor Signs Foster Care Bill of Rights
The governor recently signed into law a piece of legislation meant to help the state better care for children, including those who have been abused or trafficked. One of the bill’s provisions will prevent the destruction of some 11,000 records related to cases of children that were abused but the perpetrator could not be identified. An appeals court ruling put those records in jeopardy. Supporters say children’s safety could have been at risk if the information wasn’t kept in the system. They say the ability to retain such records allows investigators to detect patterns in cases of abuse or neglect.
Another key provision in the bill changes the definition of child abuse and neglect to include trafficking. Under state law, the ability for the state Children’s Division to get involved in a case hinged on a perpetrator having care, custody, and control of a child. Supporters say that in trafficking cases often times that caretaking role is missing, which means the Children’s Division can’t provide the sort of protective interventions that are necessary. The provision also makes more federal money available to Missouri, and aids in prosecution of both state and federal cases by aligning Missouri’s definition with that of federal law.
The legislation also establishes the Foster Care Bill of Rights to establish in law how foster children will be treated and how their rights will be protected. Another provision allows children entering foster care to be placed with people who are not related to, but have a close relationship with, the child or the child’s family – otherwise known as “kinship placements.”
The bill also extends through 2023 the existence of the legislature’s Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.
With the Governor’s signature, the provisions dealing with the definitions of abuse, neglect, and retention of abuse records became effective immediately.
Other Bills Signed by Governor Greitens
The Governor has been busy in recent weeks as he has signed several pieces of legislation approved by the General Assembly into law. Some of the bills signed by the governor include:
· SB 139 protects and extends the MORx program until at least 2022 so that more than 182,000 low-income Missourians will continue to receive assistance to afford their prescription medications.
· HB 190 gives community college police officers jurisdiction to enforce speed limits and issue tickets to those who break the law. This bill is meant to keep students and the public safe while they are on Missouri’s community college campuses.
· SB 161 establishes the Ozark Exploration Bicentennial Commission, which is tasked with celebrating the exploration of Missouri’s Ozarks. This celebration is intended to increase tourism to Missouri’s Ozarks and highlight Missouri’s natural beauty.
· HB 51 allows for more investment options with the goal of making more funds available for public cemetery upkeep. Many of the state’s cemeteries that are falling into disrepair will benefit from a new funding source for vital maintenance projects.
· SB 248 repeals the sunset date for tax refund contributions to the Organ Donor Program Fund allowing the fund to continue to accept donations in support of a program that has helped many Missourians.
· SB 8 decreases government regulations for Missouri loggers and log haulers by giving them the freedom to haul additional forest products outside the 100-mile restriction. This bill also allows Missouri farmers to drive on state highways at night with properly lighted machinery during harvest season.
· SB 222 improves public safety for utility workers by expanding Missouri’s Slow Down/Move Over law to include utility vehicles. The bill also allows for additional superior lighting on utility vehicles that will keep workers safe on the jobsite.
· SB 225 closes a loophole in Missouri’s DUI laws and honors veterans by allowing those who have received the Distinguished Service Cross commendation to park at public colleges for free.
· SB 240 establishes statewide licensing for electrical contractors in order to promote competition and fairness. This bill maintains strict and high standards to ensure safety and preserve local building code enforcement.
· SB 88 gives veterinarians the same malpractice coverage as doctors, dentists, and other medical professionals.
· HB 452 says that, with certain exceptions, no health care provider shall be liable for the negligence of another entity or person who is not an employee of the health care provider.
· SB 43 brings standards for lawsuits in Missouri in line with 38 other states and the federal government.