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February 2023 Legislative Update

Post Date: March 6, 2023

February was a big month for MOCADSV, and our members, with several of our priority bills moving through the legislative process, and three successful Capitol Advocacy Days. The Missouri General Assembly will adjourn for spring break from March 10-17, 2023.

Capitol Advocacy Days

This month, more than 60 advocates from member agencies came to Jefferson City to speak with their legislators about the life-changing work their agencies provide, and legislation that will impact the survivors they serve. Capitol Advocacy Days provide members with the opportunity to put our public policy mission – we change laws, we change lives – into action. Participants shared survivor stories, and the impact legislation and appropriations have at their agencies and in their communities.

Pelvic exam bills gain traction

Earlier this month, House Bill 283 was heard in the House Children and Families Committee. This bill relates to a patient’s right to informed consent before having a pelvic, anal or prostate exam performed while they are under anesthesia or unconscious. MOCADSV testified in support of the bill alongside one of our member agencies. The bill was voted out of the House committee and then passed out of the House consent committee. The next step is for the bill to be scheduled to go to the House floor for debate. This month the Senate companion bill, Senate Bill 106, also had a hearing. MOCADSV testified in support alongside another member agency. Senate Bill 106 was also voted out of committee, and awaits being scheduled for Senate floor debate.

Hearing held on bill for free birth certificate for survivors

MOCADSV testified in support of Senate Bill 198, which would allow a domestic violence survivor to obtain one free birth certificate. Currently, the primary concern brought up by some legislators was the fiscal note attached to the bill, and the potential added responsibility on the Department of Health and Senior Services to process these requests.

Expanding postpartum services in Missouri’s Medicaid program

The House Emerging Issues Committee heard four bills relating to Medicaid coverage for postpartum women: House Bills 254, 354, 965, and 957. The bills are identical and the House companions to Senate Bill 45. Currently low-income pregnant and postpartum women are eligible for full Medicaid benefits up to 60 days after pregnancy. The bill seeks to extend the full Medicaid benefits for up to one year after pregnancy. MOCADSV testified in support of the bill, and no opposing testimony was provided.

Hearing on bill that limits discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in schools

Senate Bill 134, which prohibits the discussion of gender identity or sexual orientation by school personnel, was heard in the Senate Committee on Education and Workforce Development. The bill prohibits any school nurse, counselor, teacher, principal, or other personnel at a public or charter school from discussing gender identity or sexual orientation with a student unless such person is a licensed mental health provider with prior parental permission. A Senate Committee Substitute was offered to prohibit a school official from withholding information regarding a student’s gender identity from the student’s parent and establishes reporting requirements if a student expresses confusion about their gender identity or requests to use personal pronouns that differ from their sex as registered by their parent during enrollment. After two hearings, the bill was passed out of committee.

MOCADSV opposes this bill and had our lobbying partners meet with the bill sponsor to share our concerns. Our primary concern is the potential freezing effect it would have on victims of dating violence, sexual harassment and assault, as well as for any victims of sexual abuse who aren’t safe at home or have a trusted adult to disclose to and seek help.

Additional legislative updates

  • House Bills 281 and 185 were heard in the House Judiciary Committee this month. These bills are related to shared parenting, typically known as 50/50 custody bills. MOCADSV has obtained an exception in situations involving domestic violence, and will continue to monitor. MOCADSV does not have a stance since our position has long been to have exceptions for domestic violence.
  • Senate Bill 129 is the senate companion bill for HBs 218 and 185. Currently, we are working with the bill sponsor to make the change from “clear and convincing” to “preponderance of the evidence”.
  • House Bill 367 was heard in the House Judiciary Committee. The bill extends the statute of limitations for child victims of sexual abuse, as well as other certain vulnerable populations, from age 31 to age 55.  It also includes a revival of the statute of limitations for those whose cases were dismissed due to the statute of limitations, and finally creates a cause of action against certain non-perpetrators who failed to protect the victim. MOCADSV testified in support of the bill alongside Missouri KidsFirst, and several sexual abuse survivors presented supporting testimony. Many of the survivors who testified had experienced sexual abuse at Kanakuk in Branson, Missouri.

Other Legislation of Interest

  • House Bill 1081 modifies and establishes provisions relating to protecting a person’s privacy. This bill was heard in the House Homeland Security Committee and seeks to modify and establish provisions related to recording conversations and protecting a person’s privacy. The sponsor is currently working on changes, but the intent of his bill is to protect people from situations such as people recording conversations and editing to post it on social media platforms. Currently, we are working with the bill sponsor to ensure there are provisions relating to sexual harassment, and violations to domestic violence, sexual assault and/or stalking Orders of Protection.
  • House Bill 1108 modifies provisions relating to the sexual offender registry and would add more individuals who would be required to register for their lifetime. This had a hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

Budget for Fiscal Year 2024

MOCADSV staff are working with representatives on the budget committees on two of our top priorities for this session, increasing the funds designated specifically for sexual violence support services, and stabilizing the VOCA fund. During Capitol Advocacy Days, many of our members reported positive responses to these two appropriations asks, and these conversations with legislators throughout the month have been helpful in demonstrating the widespread need and support for them.

The House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Mental Health, Health and Senior Services, and Social Services held a hearing this month and various line items of interest were increased, including:

FY 2024 Budget

The House Appropriations Sub-Committee on Mental Health, Health and Senior Services, and Social Services met on Wednesday, February 15th to mark-up their three state departments’ budgets for Fiscal Year 2024.  During the hearing, Chairman Rep. Black (R – Marshfield) increased various line items of interest, including:

  • New decision item within Sections 11.070 & 11.305 – Implementation of Redaction/Child Trafficking Prevention = $309,850 FTE General Revenue funding & $101,394 Federal funding along with 6 FTE (employees)
  • New decision item within 11.220 – Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) = $5,000,000 GR
  • New decision item within Section 11.225 – Assistance for Victims of Sexual Assault – $3,000,000 TANF
  • New decision item within Section 11.785 – Women & Minority Health Care Outreach Programs – $750,000 GR with language that requires a 50/50 match by recipient.

Also, during the mark-up process the information technology federal funding within the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) was decreased by $1 million. The department indicated this is funding that will not be used. 

To view our full list of priority bills review the January 2023 Legislative Update.

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