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MCADSV Legislative Update - March 31, 2020
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Missouri General Assembly halts proceedings during "Corona-session" with potential return in late April

The Missouri General Assembly suspended its legislative activities in mid-March in response to the coronavirus public health emergency. The Missouri Senate adjourned on Friday, March 13. The House adjourned on March 19. There are discussions that the legislative session may reconvene in late April but that has not been officially confirmed. Prior to that adjournment, there was bipartisan support for a range of MCADSV’s priority legislation to address domestic and sexual violence, including continuing current levels of funding for victim services in the proposed state budget for Fiscal Year 2021. Leadership from both the Missouri House and Senate continue to confer about how to maintain public health recommendations and reconvene the 2020 legislative session. The deadline for passage of the state budget is May 8.

 

 
Appropriations

With the mid-March suspension of normal business in the Missouri General Assembly, delays occurred in legislative actions to pass appropriations bills to supplement funding for the current state Fiscal Year 2020 budget and to fund the state budget for Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21), that begins July 1, 2020.

On March 15, the House Budget Committee passed the appropriations bills that will comprise the state FY21 budget. Action on those bills by the full House of Representatives was postponed, however, when the House met on March 18 to pass a supplemental funding bill (HCS House Bill 2014) for the current state budget in order to address some immediate needs related to the COVID-19 outbreak. The House then adjourned; the Senate already had adjourned.

The FY21 appropriations bills that were passed by the House Budget Committee included few changes to funding for grant programs that support services to victims of domestic and sexual violence. The biggest grant-program changes were made to line-item accounting codes to more clearly track funds from the federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) in the Department of Social Services’ (DSS) budget. Previously, VOCA funds were coded to a DSS federal funding account that was not specific to VOCA. An additional change to the DSS budget in HB 2011, detailed below, further subdivided VOCA funds into a line item for administrative uses and a line item for the funds distributed to VOCA grantees.

All FY21 appropriations bills await House floor action when the House reconvenes. Those bills then would proceed for further action by the Senate. After both the House and Senate versions of the budget bills are reconciled and passed, they advance to the governor to be signed into law.

The Missouri Constitution requires the legislature to pass a state budget by no later than early May each year. 

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

HCS House Bill 2008: Department of Public Safety (DPS)
The DPS budget book contains additional program detail and past spending on the following: 

  • State Services to Victims Fund (SSVF) grants: $2 million . This funding is in Section 8.035 of HCS HB 2008.
  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants: $3.29 million. This funding, which supports Services, Training, Officers and Prosecution (STOP) and Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) funding, is in Section 8.040 of HCS HB 2008. 
  • "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. This funding is in Section 8.045 of HCS HB 2008. 
  • 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. This funding is in Section 8.110 of HCS HB 2008. 
  • Witness Protection Program: $1 million. This is a NDI that is in Section 8.050 of HCS HB 2008. 

HCS House Bill 2011: Department of Social Services (DSS)
The DSS Family Support Division budget book contains additional program detail and past spending on the following:

  • Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grants: $65,035,217.  This is an increase of $1.3 million from current funding due to reallocating VOCA funds (the funds previously were included in line items for state-funded domestic and sexual violence grants; those funds were never awarded via DVSS and SVSS grants).  
  • VOCA administration: $2,001,191. This new designation for VOCA administrative-purposes funding is in Section 11.199 of HCS HB 2011. These funds are designated for DSS’ grant staff, information technology and contracts for training and technical assistance.
  • Domestic violence services grants (state and federal): $9,278,661. This is a decrease due to the transfer of $1.84 million VOCA dollars into the VOCA grant line-item (these are the funds that had previously been in this line item but were not awarded via DVSS grants).  The domestic violence funding is in Section 11.195 of the HCS HB 2011. 
  • Sexual assault services grants: $750,000. This is a decrease of $410,000--the amount of the FY20 funds designated for a specific program in St. Louis City and moves $160,000 VOCA dollars into the VOCA grant line-time (these are the funds that had previously been in this line item but were not awarded via SVSS grants).  The sexual assault funding is in Section 11.195 of the HCS HB 2011. 

HCS House Bill 2010: Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS)
This DHSS budget bill and budget book do not provide specific line-item information on the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) grant program.  However, HCS HB 2010 details the funding as "Sexual Violence Services, Awareness and Education Program."

  • Rape, Prevention and Education (RPE) grants: $792, 134. This funding is Section 10.955 in HCS HB 2010. 

 


ACTIONS ON PRIORITY LEGISLATION

 

Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence

Senate gives first-round, bipartisan approval to omnibus bill to address sexual assault
Senate Substitute SCS Senate Bill 569 (Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester)
House Bill 1815 (Rep. Hannah Kelly, R-Mountain Grove)
MCADSV supports
The Senate gave first-round, bipartisan support on March 10 to a Senate Substitute for SCS SB 569, amending the bill to create a multi-provision measure to address sexual assault. The original provisions of SB 569 that remain in the substitute would create a web-based rape kit tracking system, a statewide storage facility of unreported kits that would be kept for five years, and make all records in the tracking system confidential. The other bills that were added to the Senate Substitute bill include:

  • SCS SB 812 (Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville): the “sexual assault survivors' bill of rights” bill that would create new legal rights for survivors (advocacy, info, etc.) and creates a sexual assault task force;
  • SB 951 (Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis): the “justice for survivors” bill that would set up a statewide sexual assault forensic exam telehealth system for hospitals by July 1, 2022. 

SB 569 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 and timeline for storage of unreported kits.
  • The bills would make all records entered into the electronic tracking system confidential and not subject to disclosure.

Content parallel to the original version of SB 569 is in HB 1815, which has not had a committee hearing in the House.  


No hearings scheduled on bills to establish statewide telehealth network to increase access to sexual assault forensic exams 
Senate Bill 951 (Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis)
House Bill 2582 (Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee's Summit) 

MCADSV supports
No hearings have been scheduled for HB 2582 and SB 951. They are parallel bills. The bills are titled the "Justice for Survivors Act" and would establish, by July 1, 2022, a statewide telehealth network for sexual assault forensic examinations. SB 951 was amended to SS SCS 569 (Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester) on the Senate floor. 

 

Sexual Assault

Senate committee passes bill that would establish Sexual Assault Survivors' Bill of Rights and Task Force on Sexual Assault
SCS Senate Bill 812 (Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville) 
House Bill  2554 (Rep. Becky Ruth, R-Festus)
House Bill 2595 (Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold)
MCADSV supports
A Senate committee passed a committee substitute for SB 812 on March 4; the bill subsequently was amended by the Senate into a larger sexual assault bill, SS SCS SB 569. Several amendments sought by MCADSV are included in the committee substitute bill. These changes cross-reference to existing state law defining rape crisis centers, rape crisis advocates and confidentiality rights at those programs. These bills are part of a state-by-state campaign sought by a national survivors’ organization, RISE.

The bills have three main components that would create: 1) a sexual assault survivors’ bill of rights; 2) requirements for the Attorney General to file suit against those who violate survivors’ rights; and 3) a "Missouri Rights of Victims of Sexual Assault Task Force.” MCADSV continues to seek additional amendments to the bill, including changing from a Task Force set in state law to a time-limited Attorney General’s Task Force, as has previously been done for a range of topics. No action occurred in March on the similar House bills, HB 2554 and HB 2595. 

 

Insurance companies’ opposition dooms House bill to remove statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse civil suits 
HCS House Bill 1411 (Rep. Sheila Solon, R-St. Joseph) 
MCADSV supports
On March 3, House Committee Substitute for HB 1411 was removed from the House calendar for floor debate, ending the possibility of passage this legislative session. While the removal from the debate calendar was due to parliamentary procedure “Rule 47,” Capitol discussions were that the bill was derailed by insurance companies’ opposition. HCS HB 1411 would have removed the statute 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. 

 

Tax Credits

Bills progress that would modify the domestic violence tax credit program; Senate versions add new tax credit program for rape crisis centers
House Bill 2349 (Rep. Mary Elizabeth Coleman, R-Arnold)
SCS Senate Bill 958 (Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester)Senate Committee Substitute not yet available online
Senate Substitute #2 SCS Senate Bill 648 (Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester) Senate Substitute not yet available online
MCADSV supports
HB 2349 and SB 958 were originally parallel bills that would increase the annual amount of domestic violence shelter tax credits available for donations made after July 1, 2021. While both bills will allow tax credits for donations to the one government-run Missouri domestic violence shelter (Weinman shelter, St. Louis County), actions taken in March in the House and Senate made significant changes to each bill. 

A Senate committee hearing was held March 10 on a proposed Senate Committee Substitute for SB 958. That substitute bill would, after July 1, 2021: 1) increase the tax credit for donations to domestic violence shelters to 70% from the current 50% credit; 2) create a new rape crisis center tax credit that also would provide a 70% tax credit to donors; and 3) remove the cap on the statewide total of how much could annually be awarded in tax credits via these two tax credit programs. The bill awaits a Senate committee vote.  

Those three provisions also were added to another bill sponsored by Sen. Koenig, SB 648, during Senate debate on March 11. That bill, pending as a Senate Substitute, awaits further action in the Senate. 

A House committee amended and on March 4 passed a House Committee Substitute for HB 2349, the House version of the domestic violence shelter tax credit bill. The amended bill only adds the provision to allow tax credits for donors to the Weinman shelter and deletes the original content of HB 2349 that would have increased the annual domestic violence shelter tax credits threshold to $3 million from the current $2 million. 

 

Housing

House committee passes bill that would prevent victims of domestic violence from being evicted due to local public nuisance ordinances
HCS House Bill 1657 (Rep. Raychel Proudie, D-Ferguson)
MCADSV supports
A House committee passed House Committee Substitute for HB 1657 on March 5. The bill would prohibit a landlord from using local “public nuisance” ordinances to evict a tenant who seeks assistance at the housing property from law enforcement or emergency services. Currently, in some municipalities, if a local ordinance includes contacting law enforcement as part of their public nuisance ordinance, then it is allowable to evict a victim of domestic violence who contacts law enforcement for help during a domestic assault. At the request of MCADSV, the committee substitute was amended to add cross-references to the current definition of domestic violence in Missouri law.

 

Child Custody

Bills progress that would establish rebuttable presumption for 50/50 custody;  domestic violence exceptions maintained in House and Senate bills 
Senate Substitute for Senate Bill 531 (Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau) Senate Substitute not yet available online
HCS House Bill 1765 (Rep. Kathy Swan, R-Cape Girardeau)

MCADSV monitoring
SB 531, and the parallel measure HB 1765, 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. 

On March 4, the Senate debated and “laid over” for further debate, a Senate Substitute for SB 531. Two amendments to the bill were debated. Sen. Scott Sifton (D-St. Louis) offered an amendment, which was voted down, that would have allowed courts to consider domestic violence as a factor in child custody cases without requiring “a pattern of domestic violence” as in current law. Sen. Jill Schupp (D-St. Louis) offered an amendment, which remains pending, to not require a presumption for 50-50 child custody when the court finds that one of the parents abused or neglected the child(ren). A provision added to the substitute bill by the sponsor “encourages” courts to enter immediate temporary parenting plans in custody cases. The bill remains on the Senate calendar and can be debated by Senators at any time.

On March 10, the House Judiciary Committee passed House Committee Substitute for HB 1765. The committee substitute version of the bill added the same language that “encourages” courts to enter immediate, temporary parenting plans in custody cases. The bill now awaits another House committee vote.

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

Bill that would clarify the stalking definition in Orders of Protection stalls after House committee hearing
House Bill 1341 
(Rep. Lane Roberts, R-Joplin)
MCADSV supports
No action occurred in March after a House committee hearing was held in February. The bill would revise and clarify the definition of stalking in Order of Protection law in Chapter 455 RSMo (the bill would not change the definition of the criminal offense of stalking). The sections below show the bill’s proposed new language in bold and current law to be changed in [brackets]:

  • “Stalking" is when any person purposely engages in [an unwanted] a course of conduct [that causes alarm to another] directed at a specific person[, or a person who resides together in the same household with the person seeking the order of protection when it is reasonable in that person's situation to have been alarmed by the conduct] and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or the safety of a third person or suffer other emotional distress.
  • "Course of conduct" means [a pattern of conduct composed of] two or more acts [over a period of time, however short, that serves no legitimate purpose. Such conduct may include, but is not limited to, following the other person or unwanted communication or unwanted contact] including, but not limited to, 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, device, or means or the stalker interferes with a person's property;
  • "Emotional distress", means significant mental suffering or distress that may, but does not necessarily, require medical or other professional treatment or counseling.

No hearings scheduled for bills to include pets in Orders of Protection
House Bill 2626 (Rep. Sheila Solon, R-St. Joseph)
Senate Bill 959 (Sen. Scott Sifton, D-St. Louis) 
MCADSV supports
No hearings have been scheduled for HB 2626 and SB 959. The identical bills 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. The bills would allow the court to order payments to the petitioner for medical costs for a pet abused by the respondent.

 

Vital Records

House bill that would waive costs for copies of birth certificates for domestic violence victims and homeless youth awaits House floor action
HCS House Bills 1300 & 1286 (Rep. Chris Dinkins, R-Annapolis)
House Bill 1286 (Rep. Patricia Pike, R-Adrian)
House Bill 1579 (Rep. Keri Ingle, D-Lee's Summit)
SCS Senate Bill 826 (Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin)
MCADSV supports
No action occurred in March on HCS HBs 1300 & 1286 as it awaits House floor action. The bill would provide a one-time waiver of the cost for a birth certificate for domestic violence victims and homeless youth. Two additional bills are similar but both HB 1579 and SB 826 only provide the cost waivers for homeless youth. A Senate committee passed a Senate Committee Substitute for SB 826 on March 11. 

 

Firearms

No action on bills that would prohibit firearm possession by domestic violence/stalking offenders and protection order respondents 
House Bill 2131 (Rep. Doug Beck, D-St. Louis)
House Bill 2724 (Rep. Tracy McCreery, D-St. Louis) 

Senate Bill 563 (Sen. Jill Schupp, D-St. Louis)
MCADSV supports
No hearings have been scheduled for HB 2131, HB 2724 or SB 563. These identical bills 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.

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.

 

Public Assistance

House bill that would disallow cash withdrawals from TANF or SNAP benefit cards stalls after House committee hearing
House Bill 1708 (Rep. John Eggleston, R-Maysville)
MCADSV opposes
No action occurred in March on HB 1708 after a House committee hearing was held in February. The bill would prohibit public assistance and food stamp recipients from using their electronic benefit cards to obtain cash from their benefit accounts for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and/or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).



 

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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