House Members Approve Lobbyist Gift Ban Legislation (HB 1303)
On Wednesday morning, House members worked to once again pass legislation meant to diminish the influence of lobbyists. Similar to legislation the House has passed in each of the last two sessions, the bill would ban gifts from lobbyists to legislators and other statewide elected officials.
Missouri currently has no limits on lobbyist gifts. The bill House members passed this week would create a gift ban on gifts such as meals or tickets to concerts or sporting events. Supporters of the bill said it is meant to restore the public’s trust in its elected officials by eliminating any appearance of impropriety and banning all gifts that could give a lobbyist undue influence. The bill passed with bipartisan support with a vote of 134-12. It now moves to the Senate for consideration. Previous versions of the bill did not receive Senate approval before time ran out in past legislative sessions.
House Members Approve Bill to Fight Human Trafficking (HB 1246)
Legislation is now on its way to the Senate that is meant to provide rescue information to victims of human trafficking, and educate citizens across the state about the growing criminal industry. The House approved HB 1246 by a bipartisan vote of 139-5.
According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, Missouri currently ranks 20th in reported human trafficking cases. The state saw 74 human trafficking cases reported in 2017, and more than 200 cases reported over the last two years, according to the National Human Trafficking Hotline.
The bill approved Wednesday morning would require the Department of Public Safety to develop a poster to promote the use of the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. The posters would be displayed at common areas where human trafficking can occur such as hotels or motels that have been cited for prostitution, and train and bus stations.
Trafficking is one of the largest and fastest growing criminal enterprises in the world. It involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Each year millions of men, women, and children are bought and sold for commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. The illegal industry generates billions of dollars in profits by victimizing people in countries in all parts of the world.
To get help from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, call 1-888-373-7888 or text HELP or INFO to BeFree (233733).
I believe this bill will help to save lives and bring victims home to their families. The bill sponsor also pointed out that the bill will provide law enforcement officers with increased access to tips to allow them to combat trafficking.
If approved by both chambers and signed into law, Missouri would join more than 20 other states that already have similar posters in place.
House Approves Bill to Reduce Burdensome Regulations (HB 1500)
The members of the Missouri House gave bipartisan support Wednesday morning to legislation meant to cut burdensome red tape and reduce government overregulation so that businesses can thrive in Missouri. The House approved HB 1500 to remove unnecessary burdens for those who want to braid hair in Missouri.
Missouri is currently one of just 13 states that require some form of cosmetology license for hair braiders. The bill sponsor said passage of the bill will help get the government “out of people’s hair.” The bill passed the House by a vote of 131-17. It now moves to the Senate for consideration. The House passed similar legislation in 2017, but the bill failed to secure Senate approval before the session ended.