It’s hard to believe that it is already February! We were busy again this week in the House sending legislation over to the Senate. Below is an overview of what we were working on.
House Works to Enhance Real World Learning Opportunities for Young People (HB 1665)
Lawmakers approved a bill this week that would provide young people with greater access to highly-skilled, experienced instructors in areas such as health care, manufacturing, and engineering. The legislation, which also received House approval last session, would allow the State Board of Education to issue a visiting scholar certificate as a license to teach in public schools.
Supporters of the bill note that students benefit from real-world, hands-on learning and point to the success of several innovative school-community-business partnerships that provide opportunities for students to be immersed in real-world working environments and test drive careers through site-based learning. They say there is a need for qualified teachers with industry experience to assist in providing high quality learning experiences.
The visiting scholar certificate would allow a professional to be employed in a content area in which the individual has an academic degree or professional experience. The visiting scholar would only teach classes for ninth grade or higher and the hiring school district must verify that the individual will be employed as part of a business-education partnership initiative designed to build career pathways for students. The certificate would last for one year and the applicant could renew it a maximum of two times if certain requirements are met.
Supporters say the bill would allow students to benefit from the expertise of successful professionals in fields of high need. Without the program, qualified experts could be deterred from participating if they are required to obtain a teacher’s certificate. The program would also give accomplished professionals an opportunity to give back to their communities by sharing their knowledge and expertise with the next generation.
Fighting Paper Terrorism (HB 1769)
The members of the Missouri House approved legislation this week that is designed to deter those who engage in what is commonly referred to as paper terrorism. The legislation would make it a crime to file false documents such as fraudulent liens or quitclaim deeds.
Supporters of the bill say it is necessary to combat a problem that has seen law enforcement officers and other public servants targeted by individuals who use these false claims as a revenge tactic. The sponsor of the bill noted there are instances where criminals have filed false claims against their arresting officer or a judge. Paper terrorism can also result from instances such as a boundary dispute between neighbors. The fraudulent liens filed by one party in an act of retaliation can then lower an individual’s credit rating and force the person to pay expensive legal filings.
The problem is currently only addressed in the Uniform Commercial Code, and not the state’s criminal code. The bill passed this week would make the offense of filing a false document a class D felony, and include an enhanced penalty for false documents filed against elected officials, law enforcement officers, and other specified individuals. The bill also would create a process to help identify these crimes and prosecute them. Supporters note that other states and the federal government have enacted similar laws to combat paper terrorism.
Simplifying Missouri’s Bingo Laws (HB 1484 and HJR 59)
House members approved both a bill and a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove some of the unnecessary regulations that currently exist for bingo games in Missouri. The changes are meant to ease the burden for charitable organizations who use bingo games to raise funds.
The Missouri Constitution currently requires a member of an organization licensed to conduct bingo to be part of the organization for at least two years before being able to participate in the operation of a bingo game. The legislation approved by the House would change Missouri law to reduce the requirement to six months of membership. The change would also need to be made in the Missouri Constitution, which would require voter approval. The measures approved by the House would also remove the statutory restrictions on the advertisement of bingo.
If both pieces of legislation make it through the legislative process and the constitutional change is approved by voters, charitable organizations would then have a larger pool of members eligible to assist with running bingo games. The change would take pressure off of older members who are the only ones qualified to run games under current law, and would allow newer, more active members to participate in their operation.
Other Bills Moving to the Senate
HB 1617 would update Missouri’s telehealth laws. Supporters say the bill would allow health care providers to be reimbursed for telehealth services from MO HealthNet, just as they are reimbursed in the private sector. The bill would make telehealth more accessible and will help patients receive better care.
HB 1504 would require certain counties to adopt ordinances regulating land use around National Guard training centers. Supporters say the bill is a proactive measure to protect the National Guard Training Center in Newton County from encroachment by development.
HB 1408 would change the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to "The Missouri Course Access Program" (MCAP). Supporters say the bill would give students the opportunity to take courses that their school does not offer, especially in the case of small schools unable to hire teachers for advanced or specialized subject areas.
As always, it is a pleasure to serve you, and please contact my office if you need anything!
Missouri 115th District State Representative Elaine Gannon, R-De Soto, files a report every other week while the state legislature is in session.