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MCADSV Legislative Update - January 31, 2018
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2018 Missouri legislative session begins with fast passage of human trafficking bill

The 2018 legislative session of the Missouri General Assembly convened Wednesday, Jan. 3. Among the earliest measures to advance was a human trafficking bill requiring public postings of resources to help victims; the House passed the measure on Jan. 17.  A range of other MCADSV priority bills had hearings as the five-month session began: requiring law enforcement reports of sexual assaults of elderly or disabled residents of care facilities; creating the offense of nonconsensual distribution of private sexual images; allowing electronic monitoring of protection order violators; and increasing the age required to obtain a marriage license. During the third week of January, Gov. Eric Greitens released his proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2019 with summaries of funding proposed for each state department.

Missouri Capitol Advocacy Days: Join MCADSV members at the Capitol each week in February

Advocates from MCADSV member programs are invited to meet in the Capitol with legislators each week in February to put into practice the slogan of MCADSV’s legislative advocacy: “We change laws. We change lives.”

RSVP to Jennifer Carter Dochler, MCADSV Public Policy Director, at jennc@mocadsv.org and indicate which date you will attend. She will provide additional information about how to schedule meetings with legislators and how to join with other advocates using Twitter accounts as an effective tool in grassroots advocacy (@mcadsv, #moleg). If you cannot attend one of the Missouri Capitol Advocacy Days in Jefferson City, please schedule in-district appointments with your legislators and let Jennifer know of the meetings.

Missouri Capitol Advocacy Days will be each week in February:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 6
  • Tuesday, Feb. 13
  • Wednesday, Feb. 21
  • Tuesday, Feb. 27

Appropriations

Governor’s proposed FY2019 budget includes DV/SV funding increases from federal funds; MCADSV prioritizes increased spending authority for DSS’ VOCA grant program
Gov. Greitens released summary documents in mid-January for his proposed Fiscal Year 2019 state budget. Those funding summaries for the proposed Department of Social Services (DSS) budget show federal funding increases for domestic and sexual violence grant programs but do not identify the source of those federal funds. MCADSV will provide more details when the funding-source information is released to the public. In the summary documents for the proposed Department of Public Safety budget, there are no line-item specifics to identify funding levels proposed for STOP, SASP and SSVF victim services grants for FY2019.

MCADSV testified in hearings on Jan. 17 before both House and Senate appropriations committees on the need to increase the line-item spending authorization for federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants in the DSS budget. DSS needs to have the authority to expend all of the VOCA funds it has, which exceed the current line-item amount of $37 million.

 

ACTIONS ON PRIORITY LEGISLATION

 

HUMAN TRAFFICKING

House quickly passed bill to publicly post resources for human trafficking victims; bill before Senate
House Bill 1246 (Rep. Patricia Pike, R-Butler)
Senate Bill 604 (Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
HB 1246 is on the calendar for Senate floor debate after being passed by a Senate committee on Jan. 26. The House earlier passed the bill on Jan. 17. As in bills supported by MCADSV in past sessions, HB 1246 would require that posters advertising the national human trafficking website and hotline number be publicly posted. The posters, to be created by the Department of Public Safety, would be required to be posted at hotels, places of public transportation, strip clubs, health care facilities and truck stops.

House committee passed bill to set 17 as minimum age to obtain marriage licenses
House Bill 1630 (Rep. Jean Evans, R-Manchester)
MCADSV supports
On Jan. 23, a House committee passed HB 1630. The bill would set 17 as the minimum age to obtain a marriage license without a court hearing. The bill also would prohibit the issuance of a marriage license to a person 21 or older if the other person is younger than 17. HB 1630 would establish that no one younger than age 15 would be allowed to be legally married in Missouri. Raising the legal age of marriage is a strategy to address human trafficking of teenagers who are coerced or forced into marriage with a trafficker.

Senate committee hearing held on bill to expunge trafficking victims’ convictions for prostitution
Senate Bill 792 (Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis) 
MCADSV supports
A Senate committee hearing was held Jan. 22 on SB 792, a bill that would establish a process for expungement of criminal convictions for prostitution by those later determined to be “under the influence of an agent.” This expungement process, unlike others in Missouri law, would not involve court costs to be paid by the person seeking the expungement order. 

FIREARMS

Bills would prohibit firearm possession by DV offenders and protection order respondents
House Bill 1849 (Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis)
House Bill 2276 (Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson)
Senate Bill 656 (Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
HB 1849, HB 2276 and SB 656 would include in Missouri law a prohibition of firearm possession by convicted domestic violence offenders and those with a Full Order of Protection in effect against them. This state law would parallel current federal law. The bills would add these provisions to the Missouri criminal offense of unlawful possession of a firearm. Unlike a similar bill filed by Rep. Lichtenegger in 2017, HB 2276 does not include a provision supported by the National Rifle Association that would allow offenders 48 hours before being required to relinquish their firearms after a court ordered their surrender. The bill includes an emergency clause, meaning it would immediately go into effect if passed by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor. See recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch story on lack of Missouri law to protect DV victims from abusers with guns.

Bill would allow law enforcement confiscation of firearms at scene of a domestic violence call; prohibits domestic violence offenders and protection order respondents from firearm possession
House Bill 2167 (Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports  
HB 2167 would allow law enforcement officers to confiscate firearms found at the scene of a domestic violence call. The bill also would add to Missouri law the firearms possession prohibition for domestic violence offenders and protection order respondents, which is the same content as in Rep. McCreery’s HB 1849.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Bill filed to allow local jurisdictions to establish Domestic Violence Fatality Reviews
Senate Bill 976 (Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
SB 976 was filed on Jan. 31. The bill would allow the establishment of Domestic Violence Fatality Reviews through locally convened panels. These review panels would be convened by the local prosecutor or circuit attorney and include domestic and sexual violence program representatives, law enforcement, health care providers and other professionals. SB 976 specifies that the meetings and proceedings of the review panels would not be open meetings but reports of the panels’ findings and recommendations would be required to be publicly released. The bill also would allow municipalities to establish Domestic Violence Fatality Reviews. 

SEXUAL ASSAULT

Bills would require reports to law enforcement of sexual assaults of nursing home and long-term care facility residents
Senate Bill 574 (Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau)
House Bill 1635 (Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City)
MCADSV supports
Both SB 574 and HB 1635 would require reports be made to law enforcement agencies of the suspected sexual assault of residents of nursing homes and long-term care facilities—this includes sexual assaults of elderly or disabled persons. Current law only requires mandated abuse reporters to make reports to the Department of Health and Senior Services. A Senate Committee Substitute for SB 574 is on the Senate calendar for debate; it was passed Jan. 24 by a Senate committee as a “consent” or non-controversial bill. An amendment to SB 574, supported by MCADSV, added a statutory cross-reference to the definition of “eligible adult” in the section of current law on mandated reporters of abuse of elderly and disabled persons. This is the definition that clarifies that mandated abuse reports are not required for abuse victims who are 60 and older, or disabled, if they are able to obtain needed services and meet their own essential human needs. A House committee hearing was held Jan. 30 on HB 1635.

Criminal offense created for “non-consensual distribution of private sexual images”
House Bill 1558 (Rep. Jim Neely, R-Cameron)
MCADSV supports
A House committee held a hearing Jan. 23 on HB 1558. The bill would create the class D felony criminal offense of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images. HB 1558 includes as elements of the offense that the accused: “Obtains the image under circumstances in which a reasonable person would know or understand that the image was to remain private; Knows or should have known that the person in the image did not consent to the dissemination.”

Bills would require protocols for statewide tracking system for sexual assault forensic evidence
Senate Bill 958 (Sen. Jeannie Riddle, R-Fulton)
House Bill 2259 (Rep. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson)
MCADSV supports
SB 958 and HB 2259 would require the attorney general’s office to create protocols to implement a statewide tracking system for sexual assault forensic evidence. MCADSV is identifying amendments to propose for these bills to ensure survivors’ personally identifying information is protected through any tracking system and that survivors, themselves, have access to the system.  

Bills would require school curricula on sexual harassment, sexual violence and consent

Senate Bill 788 (Sen. Jamila Nasheed, D-St. Louis)
House Bill 2234 (Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston)
House Bill 2285 (Rep. Crystal Quade, D-Springfield)
MCADSV supports
SB 788, HB 2234 and HB 2285 would require schools to include, in any course materials and instruction relating to human sexuality and sexually transmitted diseases, information about sexual harassment, sexual violence and consent.

CRIME VICTIMS’ COMPENSATION AND SEXUAL ASSAULT FORENSIC EVIDENCE

Omnibus criminal justice bill includes crime victims’ compensation reforms and time limits for processing sexual assault forensic evidence
Senate Bill 966 (Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia)
MCADSV supports
SB 966 would make reforms to the crime victims’ compensation (CVC) program and set time limits for the processing of sexual assault forensic evidence. The bill contains these provisions as part of a larger criminal justice and prison/probation system reform measure containing recommendations from the Missouri State Justice Reinvestment Task Force. The CVC changes would open up eligibility for compensation by removing time limits for reporting an offense, expanding reporting requirements from law enforcement reports to include obtaining a forensic evidence exam or getting a protection order, allowing victim sworn statements to prove eligibility, and changing the filings for compensation from a notarized and paper-based system. SB 966 also would set time limits for the processing of sexual assault forensic evidence (“rape kits”): law enforcement agencies would take possession of completed evidence kits from hospitals within 14 days; law enforcement agencies then would be required to send the evidence to a crime lab within 14 days. Finally, law enforcement agencies would be required to retain sexual assault forensic evidence for 30 years for unsolved cases.

UNPAID LEAVE FROM WORK

Bill would provide unpaid leave from work for victims of domestic and sexual violence, trafficking
Senate Bill 739 (Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
SB 739 would allow unpaid leave from work for a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or human trafficking if she is employed by a public or private employer with at least 15 employees. The bill would allow victims to take unpaid leave to seek medical attention, recover from injury, obtain victim services or counseling, participate in safety planning, and to seek legal assistance. SB 739 also would allow unpaid leave to those needing that time to address the victimization of family or household members. MCADSV is working with Sen. Schupp to ensure that all sections of the bill provide the right to unpaid leave from work for domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking victims.

HOUSING RIGHTS

Bill would allow lease termination, other housing rights to victims of sexual and domestic violence
House Bill 2166 (Rep. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City)   
MCADSV supports
HB 2166 would allow victims of stalking, domestic and sexual violence to terminate their leases when documentation of that status is provided to a landlord. The documentation could be a police report, protection order or statement from a service provider. The bill also would provide victims with protections from eviction or lease termination. HB 2166 would establish an affirmative defense in suits for back rent from tenants who left a rented residence due to their victimization. Landlords would be allowed to charge a “reasonable” termination fee to a victimized tenant who terminates a lease.

SAFE AT HOME PROGRAM

Bills would require confidentiality of addresses for Safe at Home participants in child custody cases
House Bill 1461 (Rep. Sonya Anderson, R-Springfield)
Senate Bill 923 (Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia)
MCADSV supports
Both HB 1461 and SB 923 would require courts, in the records and reports related to child custody proceedings, to order that the street address not be revealed for a parent with custody if that parent is a participant in the Safe at Home address confidentiality program. The bills also would allow additional victims of crime, those who fear for their safety, to enroll in Safe at Home and would clarify some administrative operations of the program. A House committee hearing was held Jan. 30 on HB 1461.

CHILD CUSTODY

“Best interest of child” redefined as shared custody in all cases unless rebutted by “preponderance of evidence”
Senate Bill 645 (Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau)
House Bill 1667 (Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau)
MCADSV opposes
Both of these bills would establish that it is in the best interest of children that judges award equal parenting time to both parents in all custody cases. The standard for rebutting this was lowered from past versions of the bills to “preponderance of evidence” that includes the occurrence of domestic violence by one parent against the other. The language in the bills is: “There shall be a rebuttable presumption that an award of equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent giving the child equal or approximately equal access to both parents is in the best interests of the child. Such presumption is rebuttable only by preponderance of the evidence…” A House committee hearing was held Jan. 30 on HB 1667.

House and Senate bills would terminate parental rights of men found by clear and convincing evidence to have fathered a child through rape; amendments to be sought for some provisions
House Bill 1399 (Rep. Bruce DeGroot, R-Chesterfield)
Senate Bill 795 (Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester)
MCADSV supports, with amendment requests
Both HB 1399 and SB 795 would allow a court to terminate the parental rights of a biological father if it finds by “clear, cogent and convincing evidence” that he committed an act of rape that resulted in the conception and birth of the child. The bills also allow orders of child support and other financial supports to the child subsequent to the parental rights termination. MCADSV will seek the removal of those financial and support provisions as they are modifiable (i.e. could subject the mother to ongoing court processes), do not comport with the legal structure of parental rights termination and are opposed by those who have children conceived through rape. A Senate committee hearing was held Jan. 31 on SB 795.

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ONLINE RESOURCE LINKS FOR 2018 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