Friends of the 144th District, this week our district held our special election to fill the vacancy left when former Rep. Paul Fitzwater was appointed to the Board of Probation and Parole. After what some have called record turnout for a special election, I am honored to have been chosen by the voters as their next State Representative. I have spoken with the Secretary of State and the Speaker of the House who have informed me they will have more information about when I will be sworn in soon. They must wait to have the election results certified before I can be sworn in and given voting rights on the House floor. Until then, I will continue to monitor legislation moving through the process and keep you up to date on what could impact our rural communities. I am also here to assist with any government related issues you might have. It is truly an honor to serve.

House Approves Change to Abortion Parental Notification Law (HB 1383)

The Missouri House gave initial approval to legislation that would require that both parents be notified before a minor in Missouri can have an abortion.

Current Missouri law requires that a minor seeking an abortion and one parent or guardian of that minor give written consent before the procedure is performed. House Bill 1383 would require that the parent or guardian giving consent notify any other custodial parent or guardian in writing before the minor gives her consent. The bill contains exceptions for an emergency, or for custodial parents or guardians who have been found guilty of certain crimes, are listed on the sex offender registry, are the subject of an order of protection, have had parental rights terminated, or cannot be located.

This bill is a common sense measure. A custodial parent is notified of every major medical action taken on their minor child with the exception of an abortion procedure. The goal of the bill is to make all parents aware of the medical procedures being performed on their minor children. It contains protections so that a parent who is a bad actor does not need to be notified. The bill is meant to start a discussion and protect the young person who is making a life-altering decision. The House has approved similar bills in each of the last two sessions, but the bills did not receive final approval in the Senate. This year’s bill requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration.

Bills Moving to the Senate

HB 1415 would allow a teacher to count hours spent in a local business externship as contact hours of professional development. Supporters say the bill is meant to encourage teachers to engage in learning experiences with businesses in the community and bring real world skills back into the classroom. The bill would also provide students the opportunity to choose between the ACT WorkKeys assessment or ACT (including ACT Plus Writing) assessment. The ACT WorkKeys indicates that a student is career ready and provides an option for students that may seek vocational training rather than college.

HB 1370 would require every school district and charter school to maintain an accountability portal for the public. The bill will help citizens look up basic financial information on their school district and enable them to ask questions at board meetings or gain additional information from the department. This is a good government bill that focuses on transparency and public trust when it comes to how their local tax dollars are being spent.

HB 1744 would modify the A+ Schools Program by removing the requirement that the student's attendance of public high school occur in the three years immediately prior to graduation. The bill removes a technical requirement that should not prevent students from being eligible for A+ benefits. The A+ program has been a major asset to our rural communities and we should be doing everything we can do to make career, technical, and college education more accessible to our rural students.

HB 1880 declares the expansion of broadband services to be within the best interests of the citizens of Missouri and a public purpose. In furtherance of expanding broadband throughout Missouri, the bill states the intent of the General Assembly to encourage agreements between various parties and rural electric cooperatives to expand rural broadband services. The availability of Internet services is essential to Missourians’ daily lives, especially for individuals living in rural communities. For the aging population in particular, access to broadband is necessary for telehealth and communication. For business owners, access to quality Internet services is key in starting up in or moving to a rural community.

HB 1492 would extend eligibility in the Show-Me Heroes Program to five years from discharge of deployment. Currently, the spouses of active duty National Guard or reservists and active duty military personnel, and returning National Guard troops and reservists can participate in the Department of Economic Development's Show-Me Heroes Program for one year following discharge of deployment. For various reasons, many returning military personnel are not ready to look for employment in the first year as they work to reorganize their life back home. This bill would allow them extra time to participate in the program.

HB 1446 would expand the existing exception for small cities, towns, and villages that allows candidates for election to assume office without holding an election if a particular election is uncontested and the number of candidates available equal the number of open positions. The exception currently applies to cities, towns, or villages with 1,000 or less persons, and the bill would expand it to apply to those with 2,000 or less persons. Supporters say that the bill will help save money in approximately 44 percent of instances while not changing any electoral results. This is a commonsense reform measure that will save taxpayers money.

HB 1411 would prohibit a peer support specialist from disclosing any confidential communication properly entrusted to the counselor by law enforcement and emergency personnel while receiving counseling. Supporters say the program is already in effect but there is little participation because it is not confidential. This is a very important program, because officers need someone to talk to. More officers killed themselves last year than were killed in the line of duty. This legislation is not only about preventing suicide, but it is also about making sure we have officers who are healthy for service.

Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions. As your Representative-elect for the 144th District I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Christina.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112.

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