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MCADSV Legislative Update - January 31, 2020
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2020 Missouri legislative session begins with hearings on priority legislation

The 2020 legislative session of the Missouri General Assembly convened Jan. 8. The five-month session will conclude May 15. Gov. Mike Parson delivered his State of the State speech on Jan. 15 and released his proposed state FY2021 budget. House and Senate appropriations committee hearings began the week of Jan. 20. Bills supported by MCADSV were among the first bills to be heard in multiple committees. These included: a House bill to eliminate time limits for filing civil suits for childhood sexual abuse; a Senate bill to update the rape kit tracking system and establish a statewide repository of kits; and a House bill to waive the cost of a birth certificate for victims. House and Senate committees held hearings on bills that would establish a presumption of 50/50 child custody, with specific protections for domestic violence victims.
 
 
Missouri Capitol Advocacy Days: Join MCADSV members at the Capitol each week in February

Your advocacy and relationship-building visits with members of the Missouri General Assembly makes a difference. Join us as advocates from MCADSV member programs 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 (#mcadsvpublicpolicy, #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. 4
  • Tuesday, Feb. 11 
  • Wednesday, Feb. 19
  • Tuesday, Feb. 25
 
Appropriations

On Jan. 15, Gov. Parson released his FY21 state budget proposal. The governor did not make any significant changes to current funding for domestic and sexual violence services. One of his new funding proposals would support rape kit testing and another would provide state funds for a witness protection program. Here is the link to the governor’s budget document, which does not contain all of the line-item details that will be contained in budget bills.

MCADSV testified on Jan. 21 and 22 before both House and Senate appropriations committees regarding domestic and sexual violence funding, with a focus on issues with the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant program in the Department of Social Services.

On Jan. 30, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Cody Smith (R-Carthage) filed the appropriations bills that comprise the state’s annual budget for Fiscal Year 2021: July 1, 2020—June 30, 2021. The bills, as filed, parallel Gov. Mike Parson’s budget proposals for each state department but will be amended as the legislative budget process continues.  

Funding for domestic and sexual violence services remains unchanged from current levels, unless noted below.

House Bill 2008: Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • State Services to Victims Fund (SSVF) grants: $2 million
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants: $3.29 million
  • "Victims’ Compensation Programs:” $11.6 million. These funds support direct compensation to victims, the Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) program, and the child abuse forensic exam fund.
  • Rape Kit Testing: $1 million, federal funds. This is a New Decision Item (NDI) for the Crime Lab operated by the Missouri State Highway Patrol. 
  • Witness Protection Program: $1 million. This is a new budget item.

House Bill 2011: Department of Social Services (DSS)

  • Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants: $63,736,877. This is a decrease of $4,629 from current funding.
  • Victims of Sexual Assault grants: $910,000. This is a decrease of $250,000--the amount of the FY20 funds designated for a specific program in St. Louis City.
  • Domestic violence grants (state and federal): $11.1 million. This is unchanged from current funding.

House Bill 2010: Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS)
This DHSS budget bill does not provide specific line-item information on the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) grant program. That information will be provided in additional budget documents subsequently provided to legislators.


ACTIONS ON PRIORITY LEGISLATION

 

Sexual Assault

House bill to remove statute of limitations for civil suits for child sexual abuse advances quickly in January
HCS House Bill 1411 (Rep. Sheila Solon, R-St. Joseph)
MCADSV supports
The House Children and Families Committee held a hearing on HB 1411 on Jan. 14, then on Jan 21 it amended and passed a House Committee Substitute for HB 1411. The amendments added additional sexual offenses against children that would no longer have statutes of limitations for filing civil suits to recover damages for personal illness or injury resulting from childhood sexual abuse. Current law has a 10-year statute of limitations. The bill was passed on Jan. 27 by the House Administrative Oversight Committee, allowing the bill to advance toward House floor debate.

 

Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence

Bills would update requirements for a web-based rape kit tracking system with victim access; statewide repository to be created storing completed kits
House Bill 1815 (Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove)
Senate Bill 569 (Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester)
MCADSV supports
HB 1815 and SB 569 are parallel bills. HB 1815 awaits a House committee hearing; a Senate committee hearing on SB 569 was held Jan. 27. Both of the bills would enhance systems for sexual assault forensic evidence:

  • A secure, web-based system would be established for tracking sexual assault offense forensic evidence collected as a “rape kit.” The tracking system would allow sexual assault victims/their designees to track, obtain reports, and receive updates on the status and location of their kits and be notified of any updates.
  • All professionals involved in the system of collection and disposition of sexual assault forensic evidence would be required to participate in the tracking system.
  • A state-operated centralized storage repository would be established for unreported rape kits.
  • The bills would make all records entered into the electronic tracking system confidential and not subject to disclosure.

 

Firearms

Bills would prohibit firearm possession by domestic violence/stalking offenders and protection order respondents
House Bill 2131 (Rep. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis)
Senate Bill 563 (Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
HB 2131 and SB 563 would prohibit firearm possession by those convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense, offenders convicted of second degree stalking, and respondents to Full Orders of Protection. The bills also would require the Missouri State Highway Patrol to include these individuals in the FBI’s NICS database of those prohibited from firearm/ammunition possession and purchase. SB 563 and HB 2131 each would modify the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm by including those who are convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense or those who are respondents to a Full Order of Protection. No hearings have been scheduled for either HB 2131 or SB 563. MCADSV has supported similar bills in past legislative sessions.

MCADSV advocacy message on firearm bills
It is important to clarify MCADSV’s support for specific domestic violence firearms bills, which differ from other “red flag” gun bills and “extreme risk protection order” legislation. The domestic violence firearms bills are specifically focused on those who were judged by the courts and convicted or found to have harmed family members and intimate partners.

 

Child Custody

House and Senate bills to establish 50/50 custody have compromise domestic violence language
House Bill 1765 (Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau)
Senate Bill 531 (Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau)
MCADSV monitoring
MCADSV testified “for information only” in House and Senate committee hearings held in late January for HB 1765 and SB 531. Both the House and Senate bills would establish domestic violence as a primary cause to rebut the legal presumption, newly created in the bills, that it is in the best interest of children that judges award 50/50 equal parenting time to both parents in all custody cases. The standard for rebutting this presumption is a “preponderance of evidence” that includes the occurrence of domestic violence by one parent against the other.

MCADSV advocacy message on 50/50 custody bills

For many years MCADSV has advocated in opposition to 50/50 custody bills, informing legislators of the impact of abusers’ use of custody and visitation to continue their abuse against a divorcing parent who is a victim of domestic violence. MCADSV advocacy led to the inclusion of protections for abuse victims in the 2020 bills. Should those protections be lessened or if harmful amendments are added to the bills, MCADSV will oppose the legislation.

 

Orders of Protection

Senate bill filed that would specifically include pets in Orders of Protection
Senate Bill 959 (Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis)
(Bill text not yet available; bill summary here)

MCADSV supports
SB 959 would allow those seeking Orders of Protection to have the orders grant them legal custody and protection of their pets from the person who has harmed them. All adult and child, ex parte and full Orders of Protection would include specific provisions in the orders allowing a judge to grant a petitioner custody and control of pets. SB 959 also would allow the court to order payments to the petitioner for medical costs for a pet abused by the respondent.

SB 959 would allow those seeking Orders of Protection to have the orders grant them legal custody and protection of their pets from the person who has harmed them.

 

Vital Records

Bills would waive costs for copies of birth certificates for domestic violence victims, homeless youth
House Bill 1300 (Rep. Chris Dinkins, R-Annapolis)
House Bill 1286 (Rep. Patricia Pike, R-Adrian)
House Bill 1579 (Rep. Kari Ingle, D-Lee's Summit)
MCADSV supports
The House Children and Families Committee held a hearing on Jan. 28 for both HB 1300 and HB 1286. HB 1300 would provide a one-time waiver of the cost for a birth certificate for domestic violence victims and homeless youth. HB 1286 only would waive the costs for homeless youth. To gain the fee waiver, HB 1300 would require a victim/youth to provide documentation from a domestic violence program or mental health professional. It is expected that the two bills will be combined into one bill that would contain the more expansive cost waivers in HB 1300. HB 1579, similar to HB 1286, only provides the cost waivers for homeless youth; it has not had a hearing.


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ONLINE RESOURCE LINKS FOR 2020 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

The links below will provide online access to information on bills, legislators, committees and actions of the Missouri General Assembly during the 2020 legislative session.

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

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

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