March 2023 Legislative Update
Post Date: April 12, 2023
With only a few weeks remaining in the 2023 legislative session, the Missouri House of Representatives passed their version of the budget and both chambers have been busy as everyone seeks to get their legislative priorities across the finish line. Many of MOCADSV’s priority bills made significant strides toward becoming law, including one of our top funding priorities.
The Missouri House has passed the budget for Fiscal Year 2024. The budget now moves to the Senate. There are only a few weeks left to finalize what will likely be two very different versions of the state budget before the Constitutional deadline arrives on Friday, May 5th.
MOCADSV budget priorities
This year one of MOCADSV’s priorities was a significant increase in funds designated for Sexual Violence Support Services (SVSS). This year, we were able to increase the SVSS appropriations by $3 million in general revenue (GR). Previously, the line item sat at only $750,000. An earlier iteration of the bill had used Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds as the source instead of GR.
MOCADSV continues work on the VOCA fund balance. To date, the Governor and the House budgets both included additional funds to support stabilizing the VOCA fund balance. MOCADSV’s work now shifts to the Senate to ensure this critical funding remains intact or is increased.
Additional budget actions
During House Budget Committee meetings earlier in March, Chairman Smith (R – Carthage) proposed significant budget changes in a committee substitute to the FY2024 budget. The initial substitute changes completely removed the $78 million recommended by the Governor for child care subsidies, removed the funding for improvements and expansion of I-70, reduced the foundation formula – the funding for Missouri’s public schools – by $187 million, removed the $46 million in enhanced FMAP funding from behavioral health and cut $44 million for behavioral health community-based homes, removed the funding for the local public health agencies incentives programs, and most notably removed all state funding from public libraries. The removal of the library funding appears to be in response to a lawsuit filed by the Missouri Association of School Librarians and the Missouri Library Association over a book banning law that passed last year. The House’s version of the state’s spending plan leaves an estimated $1.5 billion in General Revenue unspent from what Governor Parson proposed spending in his Executive Budget.
During the House floor debate on the budget, the House Budget Committee Chair alleviated some of his colleague’s frustration with his budget plan when he restored two large cuts he had previously made to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s (DESE) budget. In a series of amendments, Chairman Smith restored Governor Parson’s recommendation to fund the expansion of pre-K ($58 million) and the state’s childcare subsidy ($78 million).
There were several contentious floor debates, the first of which was related to a series of amendments offered by Rep. Richey (R – Excelsior Springs) that would add language banning funding for “diversity, equity, and inclusion”, also known as DEI, to every state department’s budget bill. A second debate took place on the House floor over an amendment introduced by Rep. Lavender (D – Manchester) that would provide home and community-based service providers an 8.7% rate increase to match what the state had provided its employees. The amendment failed 71-73 with the narrowest vote of the evening.
The budget is now on the Senate side of the general assembly where many changes are expected to be made. Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Sen. Hough (R – Springfield) said in an interview this week that one of the first things the Senate Appropriations Committee will do is scrap the amendment that would ban funding for DEI in state department budgets.
At the federal level, President Biden released the Administration’s FY24 budget, a step that begins the FY24 federal funding process. While the President’s budget highlights the Administration’s policy and funding priorities, Congress ultimately makes the final decisions on federal funding.
The President’s budget included record investments in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act (FVPSA).
- $492 million for FVPSA
- $225 million for direct cash assistance
- $27 million for a demonstration project to support families affected by domestic violence at the intersection of substance-use coercion, housing instability, and child welfare involvement
- If enacted, this proposal would provide level funding for the FVPSA formula
- $27 million for the Domestic Violence Hotline
- $1 billion for VAWA programs which would be an increase of $300 million from FY 2023
- $95 million for legal assistance for victims
- $100 million for transitional housing
- $100 million for sexual assault services
- The budget also invests resources into programs that meaningfully address the needs of underserved and marginalized survivors, including:
- Culturally specific services
- LGBTQ services programs
- Direct cash assistance
- Tribal jurisdiction
- National Deaf services and services for survivors with disabilities
- Sustained funding for restorative justice programming
- Funding for a new focus on addressing cybercrimes, including a new national resource center on cybercrimes
DV/SA Bonus Funds
- $52 million for DV/SA Bonus program set aside from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Continuum of Care (CoC) Homeless Assistance Grants
- $1.2 billion release request from VOCA
- $700 million below the FY 23. NNEDV anticipated that the VOCA allocation in the President’s budget would be low because deposits into the Crime Victims Fund are low at the moment
- NNEDV is working on a number of strategies to try to keep VOCA allocations steady – it is their number one priority this year
- Additionally the budget calls on Congress “to require employers to provide seven job-protected paid sick days each year to all workers, and ensure that employers cannot penalize workers for taking time off to address their health needs, or the health needs of their families, or to seek safety from domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking.”
MOCADSV Priority Bills
Bills to ban pelvic and anal exams without consent passes both chambers
This month, one of MOCADSV’s top legislative priorities has cleared both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly. Senate Bill 106, sponsored by Sen. Arthur (D – Kansas City) and House Bill 283, sponsored by Rep. Kelly (R – Mountain Grove) both ban the practice of performing pelvic and anal exams on unconscious patients without their consent. SB 106 was voted out of the Senate without opposition. Its companion bill was also voted unanimously out of the House, now both bills will go to conference committee.
Bill to provide free birth certificate passes Senate without opposition
Senate Bill 198, sponsored by Sen. Thompson Rehder (R – Sikeston), would provide domestic violence survivors the ability to receive one free birth certificate. An amendment was added to the bill that would waive driver’s license fees for homeless youth. The amendment was passed overwhelmingly. Additionally, the entire bill was voted out of the Senate without opposition and now goes to the House for a committee assignment.
Anti-red flag gun law
House Bills 712 and 701, sponsored by Rep. Boyd (R – Hamilton) and Rep. Hardwick (R – Waynesville), are identical bills that establish the Anti-Red Flag Gun Seizure Act, declaring any federal order of protection or other judicial order for the confiscation of firearms, or accessories or ammunition therefore, from a law-abiding citizen shall be an infringement on the right to bear arms. Both bills were heard in committee towards the end of March. However, Rep Boyd’s bill, HB 712 includes a provision that defines “red flag laws” as, “Orders the removal or requires the surrender of any firearm, firearm accessory, ammunition from a Missouri citizen unless the individual has been convicted 16 of a violent felony crime or is otherwise disqualified under section 455.050 or 571.070.” The bolded text highlights the significant difference in that it exempts from anti-red flag legislation convicted violent felons (RSMo 571.070) and those ordered to not possess firearms as a condition of a protection order (RSMo 455.050).
This session, several different bills that ban the implementation of “red flag laws,” which would allow the removal or restriction of the ownership of firearms by certain individuals who are deemed a danger. These bills are known as anti-red flag laws. Senate Bill 10, which is an anti-red flag bill that would prevent judges from ordering firearms be surrendered when granting an Order of Protection and keep law enforcement from enforcing the order, did not pass out of committee. It was defeated on a 3-3 vote with Sen. Hough (R – Springfield) joining the Democrats in opposition. MOCADSV opposes this bill. It’s likely the bill sponsor will try to bring this bill up as an amendment to another bill. MOCADSV thanks Sen. Hough for standing in opposition to this bill. When speaking publicly about his positions, Sen. Hough said “Six people lost their lives two days ago in Nashville and, you know, when I hug my kids and when I tell them to have a good day at school, I don’t want this to happen anymore.”
There are several other anti-red flag laws that have been introduced in both chambers. Senate Bill 131, sponsored by Sen. Brattin (R-Harrisonville), allows for firearm and ammunition sales to be state and local tax-exempt. During a previous Senate floor debate, the bill was amended to change the title to “tax relief” in order to include several tax credits that pertain to diapers, feminine hygiene products, durable medical devices, and food tax credits. Due to the extremely high fiscal note, the sponsor offered a new substitute to change the title back to “Firearms Relief” in order to remove all of the previous amendments.
Senate Bill 469, sponsored by Sen. Hoskins (R – Warrensburg), creates the Anti-Red Flag Gun Seizure Act. This bill was referred to the Senate General Laws Committee.
After the House and Senate members returned from their legislative spring break, the Senate picked up where they left off by continuing the debate on the highly controversial issues relating to transgender sports and gender transition procedures for minors. The Senate convened at 4:00pm on Monday, March 20, 2023, and worked for 16 hours. By Tuesday morning, a compromise was reached, and it finally ended the first major filibuster of the session. The compromise, while not welcomed by Democrats, included a ban on surgical procedures before age 18 and a four-year moratorium on hormone therapy and puberty blockers.
Senate Bill 39, sponsored by Sen. Thompson Rehder (R – Sikeston), establishes guidelines for student participation in athletic contests organized by sex was passed out of the Senate by a vote of 25-8. The bill now moves to the House to await referral to a House committee.
Senate Bill 129 – sponsored by Sen. Brattin (R – Harrisonville) modifies provisions relating to child custody arrangements. Bills like this have been filed each year for several years. This bill passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill adds a rebuttable presumption when determining child custody arrangements that an award of equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent is in the best interests of the child. This bill is commonly known as a 50/50 custody bill. The bill allows for the presumption to be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence as specified in the act, which includes a finding by a court of domestic violence or an agreement by the parents on all issues related to custody. Additionally, current law requires a court considering child custody to consider and enter written findings of fact and conclusions of law on the child’s wishes as to his or her custodian. This bill modifies this provision to require that the court instead consider the child’s unobstructed input, free of coercion and manipulation, as to his or her custodial arrangement. MOCADSV advocated for amendments and Sen. Brattin stated that he will have a Senate Committee Substitute that will change the bill from clear and convincing to a preponderance of evidence.
Senate Bill 128 – sponsored by Sen. Thompson Rehder (R – Sikeston) modifies provisions relating to costs and fees in divorce proceedings. This bill was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under current law, a court may order a party in a divorce proceeding to pay a reasonable amount of court costs and attorney’s fees to the other party. This act requires a court in an action to enforce a temporary order or final judgment in a divorce proceeding to order court costs and fees to be paid to the party seeking enforcement by the party against whom enforcement is sought.
House Bill 870 – sponsored by Rep. Shields (R – St. Joseph) authorizes the “Child Care Contribution Tax Credit Act”, the “Employer-Provided Child Care Assistance Tax Credit Act”, and the “Child Care Providers Tax Credit”, relating to tax credits for child care. This bill was brought up for debate on the House floor. The bill places an income cap on those who may qualify, caps the number of children which may be claimed, adds a five-year sunset, and clarifies if a state subsidy is already being received, this credit may not be claimed.
House Bill 1108 – sponsored by Rep. Hicks (R – Lake St. Louis) modifies provisions relating to the sexual offender registry. Due to the number of amendments filed under the bill, HB 1108 was referred to the House Legislative Review Committee to have the committee go through amendments and craft a House Substitute for the bill to be considered by the entire House body.
Senate Bill 213 – sponsored by Senator Doug Beck (D-St. Louis) modifies provisions relating to child custody in paternity actions. The bill would prevent courts from awarding custody, guardianship, or unsupervised visitation in a paternity action to a parent who has been found guilty or pled guilty to specified offenses when a child is a victim. This bill was brought up for debate on the Senate floor on Tuesday, March 28th. Sen. Koenig (R-Manchester) then amended the bill to include Senate Bill 621, which requires the Children’s Division, or any child placing agency, to place a child with a person with the same religious faith as the child’s parents, or that of the child when applicable. The bill was passed by a vote of 33-0. The bill now moves to the House to wait for referral to a House committee.
Senate Bill 229 – sponsored by Sen. Coleman (R – Arnold) modifies provisions relating to Children’s Division contracts. It allows Children’s Division to contract for services for child safety and prevention services. This bill was voted out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
House Bill 1196 – sponsored by Rep. Richey (R – Excelsior Springs) provides protections against ideological discrimination in postsecondary education. This bill was voted out of the House Rules Administrative Oversight Committee and has now been placed on the House Calendar to await debate by the full House.
House Bill 1058 – sponsored by Rep. Hausman (R – St. Peters) establishes the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act. This bill would allow individuals seeking child custody to petition the court for abduction prevention measures to protect the child. It also allows the court to issue its own motion to order abduction prevention measures in a child custody proceeding if it finds evidence that there is a credible risk of the child being abducted. The bill includes provisions regarding prior statements or arrest for domestic violence, stalking, or child abuse or neglect. This bill was brought up for debate on the House floor at the end of March. The bill includes a similar bill, House Bill 1115, sponsored by Rep. Unsicker (D – Shrewsberry).
House Bill 354 – sponsored by Rep. Davidson (R – Springfield) modifies provisions relating to MO HealthNet services for pregnant and postpartum women. A House Committee Substitute rolled the other House postpartum coverage expansion bills in with HB 354. The bill was passed out of the House Emerging Issues Committee. The Senate version of this bill, SB 45, sponsored by Sen. Gannon (R – DeSoto), is over in the House and was referred to the House General Laws Committee and scheduled for a hearing in early April.
Senate Bill 60 – sponsored by Sen. Razer (D-Kansas City) bill prohibits discrimination based upon a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Such discrimination includes unlawful housing practices, denial of loans or other financial assistance, denial of membership into an organization relating to the selling or renting of dwellings, unlawful employment practices, and denial of the right to use public accommodations. The bill was discussed in the Senate General Laws Committee.
House Bill 355 – sponsored by Rep. Davidson (R – Springfield) modifies and establishes provisions relating to the protection of children. Specifically, the bill changes the age a person is considered a child from seventeen to eighteen. The bill also requires law enforcement agencies to take a missing person report from anyone on the child’s family support team and modifies the immunity and liability waiver to no longer exempt employees of the Department of Social Services and adds a penalty provision. The bill waives driver and non-driver’s license fees for homeless youth. Finally, the bill transfers the database of familial complaints against child care facilities from the Department of Health and Senior Services to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The HCS of the bill removed the penalty and liability provisions for the agency which the child was in custody if they go missing. This bill was referred to the House Regulatory Oversight and Reform Committee at the end of March.
Senate Bill 40 – sponsored by Sen. Thompson Rehder (R – Sikeston) modifies provisions relating to background checks. Under current law, an entity participating in the Missouri Rap Back Program may request a person’s updated criminal history record if the person has previously had a Missouri and national criminal record review within the previous six years. This act repeals the six-year requirement. This act also establishes “Emilyn’s Law,” which designates all employees of statewide athletic associations that receive public money and have at least one public school district as a member as mandated reporters. The act requires such associations to conduct a criminal background check on any person who applies for a position as a coach, a member of coaching staff, or a screened volunteer before hiring such person or allowing such person to serve as a screened volunteer. The bill was referred to the House General Laws Committee at the end of March.
Senate Bill 82 – sponsored by Sen. Coleman (R – Arnold) modifies provisions relating to public assistance. This act establishes a transitional benefits program for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The transitional benefits will be designed to assist recipients of such programs whose monthly income has exceeded the maximum allowable income for program eligibility to continue receiving reduced benefits, as described in the act. Recipients of transitional benefits shall comply with all requirements of each program for which they are eligible, including work requirements. This bill passed out of the Senate at the end of February and was referred to the House Children and Families Committee at the end of March. The House version of this bill, House Bill 719, sponsored by Rep. Riley (R – Springfield) was voted out of committee at the beginning of March as a House Committee Substitute. The HCS aligns the language of the bill with the Senate version. The bill has now been referred to the House Rules Administrative Oversight Committee where it waits for approval from the Rules Committee before being placed on the House Calendar.
House Bill 196 – sponsored by Rep. Henderson (R – Bonne Terre) allows for electronic notification to a victim or witness. This bill specifies that victims and witnesses entitled to receive notice of events related to certain criminal proceedings may receive notice by electronic mail. This bill was brought up for debate on the House floor at the end of March. Four amendments were adopted, which include allowing probation and parole officers to disclose privileged information during the course of a criminal matter, allows the Department of Corrections the ability to send offenders to cognitive behavior programs, allows Missouri to participate in the Interstate Compact for Adult Offenders Supervision, and requires the Parole Board to send notifications to offenders and victims for earned discharges. The bill now waits for approval from Fiscal Review.
Senate Bill 227 – sponsored by Sen. Coleman (R – Arnold) modifies provisions relating to the culpable mental state necessary for a homicide offense. This act adds that it shall not be a defense to a homicide charge that the identity of the person the offender intended to kill cannot be established. This bill passed out of the Senate and now awaits referral to a House committee.
House Bill 489 – sponsored by Rep. Baker (R – Neosho) creates provisions relating to health care. The bill establishes the “Do No Harm Act” and provides terms and definitions relating to “academic standards”, “health care-related academic programs”, “medical institutions of higher education” and “Diversity-Equity-Inclusion” or “DEI” among others. The bill restricts health care-related professional licensing boards from having any requirements for obtaining or renewing licenses associated with DEI related materials or programs. The bill requires medical institutions of higher education to require applicants to complete a standardized admissions test and outlines academic standards for health care-related courses of study. Finally, the bill requires medical institutions of higher education to publish titles and syllabi for all mandatory courses, seminars, classes and trainings on a public online database, and prohibit institutions from conducting DEI audits or hiring DEI consultants. This bill was brought up for Executive Session in the House Government Accountability Committee and voted out as a House Committee Substitute. The HCS adds provisions from House Bill 700, sponsored by Rep. Hardwick (R – Waynesville), which gives an individual the right to refuse the COVID-19 and other vaccines and medical treatment and be safe from adverse actions by employers if an exemption is found to be valid. The bill was reported out of committee and now waits to be referred to a House Rules Committee.
House Bills 919 and 1081 – sponsored by Rep. Schnelting (R – St. Charles) prohibits the use of Chinese-owned social media applications on state-owned devices. This bill passed the House passed by a vote of 152-0, and now moves to the Senate to await referral to a Senate committee. There is no two-party consent for recording in this bill.
House Bill 81 – sponsored by Rep. Veit (R – Jefferson City) modifies provisions relating to required background checks of individuals employed by or associated with licensed residential care facilities, child placing agencies, or residential care facilities. This bill limits the individuals that must submit to such fingerprinting to employees, contractors, owners, and volunteers. Multiple amendments were added to the bill including, requiring a state and federal fingerprint check and a search of the National Sex Offender Registry for those seeking employment with vulnerable populations; requiring background checks for those 18 years of age or older and who requests enrollment in a course that takes place on school district property during regular school hours and includes students counted by the district for purposes of average daily attendance; the Department of Health and Senior Services shall require all those included in the marijuana industry to submit fingerprints to the State Highway Patrol to conduct state and federal background checks; cleans up language that requires all fingerprints to be run against the state repository or National Sex offender registry; and removes the every six-year requirement for the Missouri RAP Back Program. This was passed by the House in a vote of 154-0. The bill now moves to the Senate where it awaits referral to a Senate committee.
Senate Bill 337 – sponsored by Sen. Crawford (R – Buffalo) modifies provisions relating to electronic notification to victims of certain crimes. This bill was heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, March 20th. Under current law, victims of certain crimes shall be notified by the prosecutor’s office and law enforcement of certain filings or status updates in the criminal case of which he or she is a victim. This act adds that the victim shall be notified by certified mail or by electronic mail.
Senate Bill 343 – sponsored by Sen. Razer (D – Kansas City) creates the offense of unlawful discharge of a firearm. This bill establishes “Blair’s Law” which specifies that a person who commits the offense of unlawful discharge of a firearm shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor for the first offense, a class E felony for the second offense, and a class D felony for any third. This bill was passed out of the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee.
House Bill 1005 – sponsored by Rep. Buchheit-Courtway (R – Festus) modifies provisions relating to the placement of a child with a grandparent or other relative. The bill specifies what a diligent search for a grandparent or other relative of a child removed from the custody of the parents must include. Additionally, the bill requires the Children’s Division within the Department of Social Services to file with the court information regarding any attempts made to search for relatives within 30 days of when the child was removed from their home. This bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 1170 – sponsored by Rep. Hudson (R – Cape Fair) modifies provisions relating to a child’s right to counsel and guardian ad litem. The bill removes the requirement that guardian ad litem is appointed but will require that a court with jurisdiction appoint counsel for the child in any delinquency, child abuse or neglect, or termination of parental rights proceedings. This bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 1271 – sponsored by Rep. Unsicker (D – Shrewsbury) modifies provisions relating to proceedings involving children. The bill establishes requirements for guardian ad litems (GAL). All parties must be notified by the court that the parties have a right to request one disqualification of a GAL without cause within 30 days of the appointment. Outside of the 30-day period or after exhausting the first disqualification, GALs may still be disqualified but it must be for cause. This bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee.
House Bill 549 – sponsored by Rep. Roberts (R – Joplin) establishes procedures for a violent offender registry, which will include any person on probation or parole for first or second-degree murder. This bill specifies that the State Highway Patrol must maintain on its website a registry for violent offenders who are on probation or parole for the offense of first or second-degree murder in Missouri or for an equivalent offense in any other state or persons who were found not guilty of such offense by reason of mental disease or defect. This bill was heard in the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee.
Senate Bill 284 – sponsored by Sen. Arthur (D – Kansas City) modifies provisions relating to the Missouri Housing Trust Fund. Under current law, a user fee of four dollars is charged for the recording of any instrument with the county recorder of deeds. An additional fee of three dollars is charged for the recording of certain instruments, such as deeds, mortgages, conveyances, and deeds of trust, which is then deposited in the Missouri Housing Trust Fund. The county recorder of deeds collects these fees and remits them to the Department of Revenue. Under current law, the money in the Missouri Housing Trust Fund is used to financially assist households with a combined adjusted gross income equal to, or less to, certain percentages of the median family income for the geographical area. This bill modifies these provisions to include households with a combined adjusted gross income equal to or less than 50% of the median family income to be eligible for financial assistance for housing. This act also provides that households with a combined adjusted gross income equal to, or less than 30%, shall be eligible for financial assistance for certain residential occupancy projects. Finally, this act requires that no less than 50% of the funds shall be allocated to rental support projects. This bill was heard in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Senate Bill 458 – sponsored by Sen. Coleman (R – Arnold) modifies provisions relating to child protection. This act modifies existing statutory exceptions against recognizing privileged communications in situations of child abuse or neglect to include cooperation with the Children’s Division in its activities under additional provisions of law, including child abuse or neglect investigations, termination of parental rights, and adoption and foster care. Under current law, all information provided at a family support team meeting relating to the removal of a child from the child’s home is confidential. This act modifies this provision so that all information provided at the meeting is confidential. Under this act, if a child is placed in a residential congregate setting, Children’s Division shall arrange for a qualified individual to complete an assessment of the child within 30 days to determine the child’s placement options and short-term and long-term goals. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Senate Bill 491 – sponsored by Sen. Cierpiot (R – Lee’s Summit) modifies provisions relating to abortion, including the importation and distribution of drugs used to perform or induce abortions. Under this act, a person or entity commits the offense of trafficking abortion-inducing drugs if such person or entity knowingly imports, exports, distributes, delivers, manufactures, produces, prescribes, administers, or dispenses, or attempts to do so, any medicine, drug, or other means or substance to be used to induce an abortion on another person in violation of state or federal law. This bill was referred to the Senate Health and Welfare Committee.
Senate Bill 225 – sponsored by Sen. Schroer (R – O’Fallon) creates provisions relating to the liability of businesses prohibiting firearms on the premises. The bill assigns custodial liability for the safety of any person to any business which prohibits the possession of firearms on its premises. The bill also includes the explicit duty of the business to guard people against criminal or harmful acts committed by a third party. Finally, the bill provides businesses that allow the lawful possession of firearms on the premise to have immunity from liability. This bill passed out of the Senate Transportation Committee.
House Bill 454 – sponsored by Rep. Coleman (R – Grain Valley) modifies provisions relating to criminal offenses involving a child. Currently, a statement made by a child under the age of 14 that would otherwise be inadmissible in court, including a visual and an aural recording of a verbal or nonverbal statement of that child, is admissible in court. This bill changes the age to children under 18. The bill also adds that a visual and an aural recording of a verbal or nonverbal statement of a vulnerable person, as defined in the bill, is also admissible. This bill also modifies the offense of enticement of a child by increasing the age of the victim from less than 15 years old to less than 17 years old. Additionally, the bill modifies the penalty provisions for the offense of patronizing prostitution. Currently, the penalty distinctions are for older than 14 years of age and 14 or younger. This bill increases the age from 14 to 15 years old and modifies the offense of patronizing prostitution if the individual is 15 years of age or younger from a class D felony to a class B felony. This bill passed out of the House and now moves to the Senate to await referral to a Senate committee.
House Bill 301 – sponsored by Rep. Roberts (R – Joplin) modifies and establishes provisions relating to public safety. This bill was passed as a Senate Committee Substitute out of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the beginning of the month. The SCS removed provisions regarding the Missouri Special Prosecutor Appointment Committee; added armed criminal action to the list of offenses outlined in the bill; and removed the provision requiring DOC to help qualified, recently released offenders apply for Medicaid benefits. The bill now waits to be reported out of committee before being placed on the Senate Calendar.
House Bill 721 – sponsored by Rep. Riley (R – Springfield) establishes provisions protecting transportation network companies from vicarious liability. This bill exempts transportation network companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft from any vicarious harm arising out of the use of the digital network by a TNC driver if the TNC is not negligent under the law and the TNC has otherwise fulfilled all of its legal obligations to the TNC driver. The sponsor informed the committee the intent of the legislation is to remove vicarious liability from TNCs as numerous frivolous lawsuits have been filed against TNCs. This bill was heard in the House Judiciary Committee at the beginning of March.
House Bill 677 – sponsored by Rep. Copeland (R – Salem) allows the Office of Child Advocate to disclose the identity of a complainant or recipient if requested by law enforcement as part of an investigation. The bill passed the House and now moves to the Senate to await referral to a Senate committee.
House Bill 351 – sponsored by Rep. Christofanelli (R – St. Peters) authorizes a sales tax exemption for the purchase of diapers and feminine hygiene products. It was referred to the House Committee on Children and Families at the beginning of March.
House Bill 981 – sponsored by Rep. Evans (R – West Plains) changes provisions relating to orders of protection. This bill changes the definitions of “adult” and “child” related to orders of protection. “Adult” is now defined as someone 18 years of age or older, increased from 17, and “child” is defined as someone under 18 years of age, increased from 17. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.
Senate Bill 160 – sponsored by Sen. Schroer (R – O’Fallon) modifies provisions relating to public funding of abortion facilities, affiliates and provisions relating to MO HealthNet providers. This bill would prohibit the use of any public funds, including reimbursement from Missouri’s Medicaid program (MO HealthNet). This bill passed out of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee at the beginning of the month.