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MCADSV Legislative Update - January 31, 2021
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Missouri legislative session begins slowly due to COVID impact

The 2021 legislative session of the Missouri General Assembly convened Jan. 6. The impact of the COVID-19 virus caused some slowing of the pace of business during this first month of the session, which included a week when the House did not convene due to the spread of the virus among legislators and staff. Gov. Mike Parson delivered his State of the State speech on Jan. 27 and released his proposed state Fiscal Year 2022 budget. The five-month legislative session will conclude May 14. 

 

 
Missouri Capitol Advocacy Days go Virtual in February

Your advocacy and relationship-building meetings with members of the Missouri General Assembly make a difference. Join advocates from MCADSV member programs to meet virtually with legislators in February. Our virtual meetings will still to put into practice the mission of MCADSV’s legislative advocacy: “We change laws. We change lives.” 

To participate, 
RSVP to Jennifer Carter Dochler, MCADSV Public Policy Director, at jennc@mocadsv.org. She will provide 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). 


 
Appropriations

Gov. Parson’s proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2022 did not make any significant changes to current funding for domestic and sexual violence services. The governor’s budget for the Department of Social Services includes the restoration of state funds for the DVSS and SVSS grants, ending the current year’s use of federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds for those grants/contracts. Also, the governor’s budget proposes state funding to support the new Pretrial Witness Protection fund that was created and funded with VOCA funds in the Department of Public Safety in 2020.


Department of Social Services (DSS): Line-item budget book details released for DSS (link here)
  • Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) federal funding: $67 million, with $2 million designated for administrative uses (line items 11.205 and 11.210)
  •  Domestic violence state and federal funding: $9.360 million, which includes a small increase in federal Family Violence Prevention and Services Act funding from federal stimulus funding (line item 11.200)
  • Sexual assault state funding: $750,000, with no earmarks (line item 11.215)

Department of Public Safety (DPS): Line-item details on grant programs to be released on Feb. 8th
The DPS budget bill will be released Feb. 8. The Governor’s DPS summary budget does not contain line-item details on funding for victim services. The DPS budget overview presented this week during a Senate hearing noted the funding change for the Pretrial Witness Protection fund to state funds from the current use of VOCA funds.

Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS): Line-item budget details not yet available
The Governor’s DHSS summary budget, which does not contain line-item details, does not show information specific to the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) grants. That information will be detailed when DHSS budget books are released in early February.


ACTIONS ON PRIORITY LEGISLATION

 

Orders of Protection

Senate bill filed that would specifically include pets in Orders of Protection
Senate Bill 71 (Sen. Elaine Gannon, R-DeSoto)
MCADSV supports
SB 71 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 71 also would allow the court to order payments to the petitioner for medical costs for a pet abused by the respondent.

“Course of conduct” aspect of stalking definition updated for Order of Protection law
House Bill 292 (Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin)
MCADSV supports
The current law defining stalking for protection orders includes “an unwanted course of conduct.” HB 292 would expand this definition: “acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through a third party follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person by any action, method, or device.”

Bills would allow judges to issue lifetime protection orders against unrelenting abusers
House Bill 744 (Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin)
Senate Bill 415 (Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston) 
MCADSV supports
The bills would allow judges to issue lifetime Orders of Protection for adult victims found to face unrelenting violence, abuse, threats and/or stalking. The bills allow protection orders for a time that would “exceed the lifetime of the respondent.” MCADSV staff will suggest amendment language to add the lifetime language while retaining current law allowing orders for a period of one year, with allowable one-year renewal periods.

“Coercive control” proposed to be added to abuse definition and cause to obtain a protection order
House Bill 427 (Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson)
MCADSV supports
HB 427 would add to protection order law an additional definition of abuse by including actions of “coercive control.” The bill also would add another element of abuse by including actions of “disturbing the peace” of a protection order petitioner. Due to the expansive nature of the proposed definitions, it is likely that lawmakers would make changes to the bill during any hearings and debate.

 

Tax Credits

Tax credit program created for rape crisis centers, expanded for domestic violence shelters
Senate Bill 155 (Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester)
MCADSV supports
SB 155 would  create: 1) a new rape crisis center tax credit with a 70% tax credit to donors; 2) a parallel 70% tax credit for donations to domestic violence shelters from the current 50% credit; and 3) the end of the current $2 million annual cap on the amount of these tax credits that can be awarded to donors (current annual total is $2 million for domestic violence shelters).

 

Sexual Assault

Hearings held on bills that would criminalize sexual conduct with a prisoner or offender by a law enforcement officer
House Bill 457 (Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin)
Senate Bill 60 (Sen. Brian Williams, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports the provision on sexual conduct in the course of public duty
Both HB 457 and SB 60 would create the criminal offense of “sexual conduct in the course of public duty” by a law enforcement officer with a detainee, prisoner or offender. The bills would prohibit such sexual conduct by any on duty police officer, jailer, corrections staff or probation and parole officer. The penalty for the offense would be a class E felony. SB 60 had a hearing on Jan. 25 and HB 457 had a hearing on Jan. 26. 

 

Unpaid Leave

Bill would create unpaid leave from work for victims of domestic and sexual violence
Senate Bill 16 (Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
SB 16 would provide unpaid leave for a domestic/sexual violence victim if their employer has at least 20 employees, and allows the leave for a range of needs, including medical attention, legal and/or victim services.

 

Firearms

Bills would restrict firearms from domestic violence offenders, protection order respondents
House Bill 473 (Rep. Ron Hicks, R-Dardenne Prairie)
House Bill 40 (Rep. Richard Brown, D-Kansas City)
Senate Bill 144 (Sen. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
The structure of the bills varies, but each include the two domestic violence firearms prohibitions that replicate current federal law: the prohibition of firearm possession by those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors and those with full Orders of Protection in effect against them. 

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.

 

Local Nuisance Orders

Bill would prohibit “nuisance” ordinances from penalizing domestic and sexual violence victims’ calls for emergency assistance
House Bill 426 (Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson)
MCADSV supports
HB 426 would prohibit cities or counties from passing ordinances that would classify as “nuisance” any calls for law enforcement or emergency assistance by residents, tenants or landlords who are victims of abuse or crime. The bill would allow a civil suit to be filed against a unit of local government by a victim who was penalized under a nuisance ordinance for making calls for assistance. Previously, some local ordinances did allow eviction or other penalties for tenants who made repeated calls for law enforcement assistance, including violence victims, by including the calls in the definition of a local nuisance.

 

Child Custody

House and Senate bills to establish rebuttable presumption for 50/50 shared parenting contain compromise DV exemptions;
Bills also would create tiers and limits for awards of spousal maintenance based on length of marriage

House Bill 299 (Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau)
House Bill 947 (Rep. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau)

Senate Bill 199 (Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring)
MCADSV monitoring
The bills would create a rebuttable presumption in favor of 50/50 custody in all child custody cases. Each of the three bills contain the same language exempting domestic violence victims from the presumption in favor of 50/50 custody provisions. MCADSV’s position on the bills is proposed as one of “monitoring” the bill without opposition, with the expectation of opposing the bill should the domestic violence protections be removed or weakened.

SB 199 and HB 947 also would establish a new, three-tier system for awards of spousal maintenance in divorce cases to limit the amount of maintenance awarded. The tiers are based on the length of the marriage. 

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 2021 bills. Should those protections be lessened or if harmful amendments are added to the bills, MCADSV will oppose the legislation.

 

Public Assistance

Penalties/denial of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits increased for recipients not in compliance with work requirements
House Bill 217 (Rep. Chad Perkins, R-Bowling Green)
Senate Bill 138 (Sen. Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville)
MCADSV opposes
HB 217 and SB 138 both would increase penalties and loss of SNAP food assistance benefits for nonexempt adults who fail to meet 30-hour/week work requirements. The loss of SNAP benefits as penalty for work noncompliance increase from three months to six months to a lifetime loss of eligibility. HB 217 references federal law that exempts from the requirements the following: parents of children younger than 6; recipients of TANF or unemployment assistance; and incapacitated adults.

Bill would reduce Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) benefits if children of household not in school for 90% of school days
House Bill 247 (Rep. Jeff Porter, R-Montgomery City)
MCADSV opposes
HB 247 would reduce TANF benefits by 65% for six months for families whose children did not attend school for 90% of the school days in the prior six months. The bill exempts excused absences from the calculation of school attendance. Missouri Family Support Division would be required to check school attendance every six months for families receiving TANF benefits.

No SNAP benefits without cooperation with Child Support Enforcement or good cause exemption
House Bill 451 (Rep. Dottie Bailey, R-Eureka)
HB 451 would require cooperation with Child Support Enforcement, or a good cause exemption, for an adult parent or non-custodial parent/caretaker, to be eligible for SNAP food assistance benefits. The occurrence of domestic violence is one of the good cause exemptions from child support cooperation that can be granted by the Missouri Division of Family Services. Victims are not always informed of this. 


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ONLINE RESOURCE LINKS FOR 2021 LEGISLATIVE SESSION

The links below will provide online access to information on bills, legislators, committees and actions of the Missouri General Assembly during the 2021 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