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MCADSV Legislative Update - February 2017
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Gov. Grietens proposes increases in domestic and sexual violence funding; MCADSV members advocate at the Capitol
February began with some good news for Missouri public policy: Gov. Eric Greitens proposed increased funding for sexual and domestic violence services in his proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2018. Another highlight of the month was the important public policy advocacy work in the Capitol by advocates from throughout the state who met with their Representatives and Senators during weekly MCADSV Capitol Advocacy Days events.

During February, several MCADSV priority bills gained legislators’ support and advanced through committee hearings. These include bills that would: criminalize the public sharing of private sexual images; raise the age of marriage to 17; create a statewide tracking system for sexual assault forensic evidence; require public posting of the National Human Trafficking Hotline number; and allow electronic monitoring of those who violate Orders of Protection. MCADSV successfully halted progress on two protection order bills that would penalize victims and not offenders.

A MCADSV priority bill to address domestic violence and firearms was withdrawn not long after a National Rifle Association (NRA) action alert mobilized opposition to it. Several other bills did not advance during the month, some of which were supported by MCADSV and some were opposed. Supported bills that did not advance included: House and Senate measures to prohibit domestic violence offenders from possessing firearms; bills that would create unpaid leave from work for domestic and sexual violence victims; a Senate bill to allow sexual and domestic violence victims to terminate leases; and a House bill to expand rape victims’ eligibility for crime victims’ compensation.

Legislation opposed by MCADSV, likely to have hearings in March, include House and Senate bills that would establish new standards for shared child custody and a House bill to end the waiver of guardian ad litem fees for Legal Services clients in child custody cases.

Appropriations
House budget bills include Governor's proposal for increased state funding for SV/DV services

Gov. Greitens included increased funding for sexual and domestic violence services in his proposed Fiscal Year 2018 state budget released on Feb. 3. The House Budget Committee chairman introduced all appropriations bills on Feb. 21. House Budget and Senate Appropriations Committees began holding overview hearings of each state department's budgets in early February. In March, House appropriations committees will begin the “mark-up” amendment process for all state departments’ budget bills.

House Bill 11: Department of Social Services (DSS)

HB 11 includes increased funding for sexual and domestic violence services in the FY18 DSS budget:

  • $500,000 increase for sexual assault services, for a total of $1 million in state funding;
  • $250,000 increase for domestic violence services, for a total of $8.7 million in state and federal funds.

House Bill 8: Department of Public Safety (DPS)

HB 8 includes level funding for all crime victims’ grant programs in the FY 18 DPS budget, except for the State Services to Victims Fund (SSVF):

  • State Services to Victims Fund (SSVF): $2.8 million, a reduction of $800,000 from current funding—resulting from reduced collection of court costs and crime fines that support SSVF
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), STOP and SASP grants: $2.69 million, federal funds
  • Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants: $37 million, federal funds
    • Funding for an additional 3 FTE positions to administer VOCA grants in the Crime Victims Services’ Unit, from VOCA administrative funds.

Proposed new rules for VOCA grants in DPS
In February, proposed new rules to guide DPS’ administration of VOCA grants were published for public comment. These would implement in Missouri the new 2016 federal rules for VOCA that expand the types of services eligible for funding. The proposed rules also would establish new procedures for grant applications, objective standards for grant evaluations and a transparent appeals process. MCADSV staff worked with DPS on the drafting of the new rules and will submit public comments about them on behalf of Coalition members. 

 

Actions on priority legislation


Firearms

House member withdraws domestic violence gun bill; NRA issued February action alert for its members to oppose it
House Bill 766
Sponsor: Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson
On Feb. 22, the sponsor of HB 766 withdrew that bill from consideration by lawmakers. Earlier in February, the National Rifle Association (NRA) issued a legislative action alert in opposition to HB 766, and two other bills (listed below) that all would enact in Missouri law the current federal provisions in effect since 1997 that prohibit firearm possession by those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence and protection order respondents. MCADSV continues to advocate for this type of legislation to protect victims of domestic violence crimes and the victims of sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence and child abuse who have protection orders against those who hurt them.

House and Senate domestic violence gun bills still not referred to committees for hearings
Senate Bill 318
Sponsor: Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
House Bill 658
Sponsor: Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
These House and Senate bills to restrict firearms from domestic violence offenders, SB 318 and HB 659, still have not been referred to committees for hearings. Each of these bills would enact in Missouri law the current federal provisions in effect since 1997 that prohibit firearm possession by those convicted of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence and protection order respondents. The bills would give jurisdiction to Missouri law enforcement officers, prosecutors and courts to hold domestic violence offenders accountable for the offense of unlawful possession of a weapon. During February, a significant numbers of calls and emails from NRA members in opposition to the domestic violence gun bills were received by legislators in the House and Senate.


Orders of Protection

Hearing held on bill to prevent charges against respondents if petitioners initiate communications
House Bill 59
Sponsor: Rep. Lindell Shumake, R-Hannibal
MCADSV opposes
HB 59 was heard by the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 7, with MCADSV and a prosecutor testifying in opposition. HB 59 would amend protection order law so that respondents would not be in violation of an order if they respond to communication initiated by the petitioner. Opposition testimony included a review of current law—and jury instructions—that define a violation of a protection order as occurring when the respondent initiates communication with a petitioner. No one testified in support of HB 59.

Protection order bill with criminal penalties for petitioners withdrawn from hearing
House Bill 237
Sponsor: Rep. Mike Kelley, R-Lamar
MCADSV opposes
MCADSV achieved the withdrawal of HB 237 from a scheduled Feb. 7 House committee hearing. The bill would create criminal penalties for any protection order petitioner who initiates communication with the order’s respondent. MCADSV met with the sponsor and House Judiciary Committee members in advance of the scheduled hearing to discuss the many reasons for opposing the bill. The Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (MAPA) joined in that advocacy effort with lawmakers.

Bill to allow electronic monitoring of protection order violators advances in Senate
Senate Bill 99
Sponsor: Sen. Ed Emery, R-Lamar
MCADSV supports
SB 99 advanced in February to the Senate calendar for debate after passage by a Senate committee. The bill would allow electronic monitoring of a protection order respondent who is charged with or found guilty of violating an Order of Protection. Courts would order electronic monitoring of a protection order violator only after receiving the informed consent of the victim of the offense. SB 99 defines electronic monitoring as a system that can monitor the movement of a person and immediately transmit that person's location to the victim and local law enforcement when the person enters a certain area.


Sexual assault

Criminal offense created for “nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images”
House Bill 706
Sponsor: Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron
MCADSV supports
A House committee hearing was held Feb. 14 on HB 706, which would create the new class D felony offense of “nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, ” to address what often is termed “revenge porn.” MCADSV testified in support. HB 706 would criminalize the dissemination of sexual images of a person who did not consent to the sharing of the image(s). The bill also contains the element of the offense that the sexual image was one that “a reasonable person” would know or understand was to remain private.

Cost issues discussed in hearing on sexual assault forensic evidence tracking system bill
House Bill 578
Sponsor: Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson
MCADSV supports
A House committee hearing was held Feb. 14 on HB 578, which would create a tracking system for sexual assault kits completed in a sexual assault forensic examination. Committee members discussed options for phasing in a tracking system due to the projected cost of $2.6 million for a system that tracks kits from hospitals to law enforcement agencies to crime labs to prosecutor’s offices, with victim notification systems integrated throughout the process. MCADSV testified in support and provided committee members with an overview of the need for a sexual assault response infrastructure.

MCADSV proposed changes included in amendments to sex offender registry bill
House Bill 431
Sponsor: Rep. Kurt Bahr, R-St. Charles
MCADSV monitoring
A House committee on Feb. 21 approved a revised version of a sex offender registry bill, HB 431. The bill would create a three-tiered system that categorizes sex offenders by seriousness of the committed offense. The bill sets specific time periods, based on the tiers, after which offenders who do not reoffend could petition courts for removal from the registry. MCADSV provided the bill’s sponsor and House committee members with proposed amendments to HB 431 prior to the Jan. 31 House committee hearing on the bill.

Bill to expand sexual assault victims’ eligibility for crime victims’ compensation awaits hearing
House Bill 396
Sponsor: Rep. Sara Unsicker, D-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
No hearing was held during February on HB 396, a bill that would expand the ability of sexual offense victims to receive Crime Victims’ Compensation. HB 396 would expand survivors’ access to compensation by expanding eligibility to include: police reports made up to 7 days after an assault; obtaining an Ex Parte or Full Order of Protection; and obtaining a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE) or related medical care. Current Missouri law requires victims to notify law enforcement within 48 hours of an offense to be eligible for Crime Victims’ Compensation payment,


Crime Victims’ Compensation

Bill advances that would increase funding for crime labs from crime victims’ compensation fund
House Bill 743
Sponsor: Rep. Kathie Conway, R-St. Charles
MCADSV monitoring
A House Committee passed HB 743 on Feb. 16. The bill would increase funding for state crime labs from court costs and fines collected upon criminal convictions that fund the Crime Victims’ Compensation (CVC) program. MCADSV continues to work with the bill’s sponsor on amendments to ensure that HB 743 does not negatively affect the funding formula for a range of other programs that also are funded through court costs and fines. These include the CVC program, State Services to Victims Fund (SSVF) grants and the MOVANS victim notification system. HB 743 will advance to a second House committee for another hearing and vote.


Human Trafficking

Bills advance to require national human trafficking hotline number posters in public places
Senate Bill 68
Sponsor: Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis
MCADSV supports
House Bill 261
Sponsor: Rep. Cloria Brown, R-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
SB 68 advanced in February to the Senate calendar for debate after passage by a Senate committee. SB 68 and its companion House Bill, HB 261, both would require posters advertising the 24-hour National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline in public places such as hotels, truck stops, hospital emergency rooms, sites of public transportation and adult entertainment businesses. A House committee passed a substitute version of HB 261 on Feb. 21. MCADSV testified in support of both bills.

House committee passes bill to increase legal age of marriage to age 17
House Bill 270
Sponsor:  Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester
MCADSV supports
A House committee voted Feb. 15 to pass a committee substitute of HB 270, which would raise the age required for a person to obtain a marriage license to 17 from the current age of 15. The bill is proposed as a legal mechanism to address human trafficking in instances where teenaged girls are brought to Missouri, legally “married” and then trafficked. MCADSV testified in support. HB 270 now advances to an additional House committee.

Hearing held on bill to allow expungement of trafficking victims’ convictions for prostitution
Senate Bill 344
Sponsor:  Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
A Senate committee hearing was held Feb. 20 on SB 344, a bill that would establish a legal process to expunge the criminal records of persons who have pled guilty to, or been convicted of, the offense of prostitution while “under the influence of an agent." Those who were under the control of another person when they were convicted of prostitution would be able to petition a court for an expungement hearing. SB 344 does not place any time requirements for an expungement petition and allows a convicted person to remain eligible for expungement despite additional subsequent arrests, convictions, or guilty pleas to prostitution offenses.

 

Housing Protections

Sexual and domestic violence, stalking victims allowed right to terminate a lease, change locks, be protected from discrimination as tenants
Senate Bill 289
Sponsor: Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
SB 289 has a committee hearing scheduled for February 28. It would allow a tenant to terminate a lease agreement if the tenant or her/his dependent is a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking. The bill would require tenants who seek to terminate a lease to provide 90 days’ notice to landlords that includes either a protection order or documentation from law enforcement, a rape crisis center, judge or medical professional. SB 269 also would allow tenants to change locks on their rented dwellings, at their own expense. Finally, the bill would prohibit landlords from terminating or refusing to renew a lease based on a tenants’ status as a victim. MCADSV will seek an amendment to the bill to add information from domestic violence programs as documentation of a tenant’s need to terminate a lease.


Unpaid Leave from Work

No hearings in February for unpaid leave from work bills for victims of sexual and domestic violence
Senate Bill 268
Sponsor: Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
House Bill 842
Sponsor: Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis
MCADSV supports
No hearings were scheduled in February on two bills that would create unpaid leave from work for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and human trafficking. SB 268 and HB 842 both would create unpaid leave from work for victims to obtain services, medical care, legal assistance and to participate in court proceedings.


Child Custody

Bills would require clear and convincing evidence to rebut presumption for shared custody
House Bill 724
Sponsor: Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau
MCADSV opposes
Senate Bill 377
Sponsor: Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau
MCADSV opposes
No hearings were held in February on HB 724 and SB 377. Both bills would create a rebuttable presumption for judges to award equal parenting time in all custody cases unless “clear and convincing evidence” that such an award is not in the best interest of the child(ren) involved. This is a higher standard for evidence than current law and would be difficult for many domestic violence victims to meet. MCADSV will advocate with sponsors of the bills to ensure changes to custody laws do not weaken current protections for parents and children who are victims of domestic violence. 

Waivers of guardian ad litem fees to be ended in custody cases involving Legal Services’ clients
House Bill 765
Sponsor: Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters
MCADSV opposes
HB 765 would end waivers of payment for guardian ad litem (GAL) fees in custody cases, fees that currently are waived for indigent parties represented by Legal Services and law school clinics. Ending the waivers of GAL fees would create financial barriers to poor parents in custody cases, who would have to pay half of these fees that can range from $1,000 to $10,000 per case. Legal Services staff report that nearly all of the custody cases in which they represent domestic violence victims include GAL fees. Current law waives not only the GAL fees, but also filing fees and service fees for indigent litigants represented by Legal Services and law school clinics.


Public Assistance Benefits

No hearing in February for bill to stop TANF/SNAP recipients from getting cash from benefit cards
House Bill 164
Sponsor: Rep. J. Eggleston, R-Maysville
MCADSV opposes
No hearing was scheduled during February for HB 164, which would prohibit those receiving public assistance through Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits or food stamps (SNAP) from using their electronic benefit cards (EBTs) cards to get cash from ATMs or cash back from purchases made with EBT cards. The bill also would limit the items that may be purchased with TANF and SNAP electronic benefit cards. 

 

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ONLINE RESOURCE LINKS FOR 2017 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

The links below will provide online access to information on bills, legislators, committees and actions of the Missouri General Assembly during the 2017 legislative session.

House bills: www.house.mo.gov  Home page menu, top right “bill search” field to find bills

Senate bills: www.senate.mo.gov Home page menu, top right “bill search” menu to find bills

Current Missouri statutes: http://revisor.mo.gov/main/Home.aspx