It was another busy week at the State Capitol. We were able to work on several important pieces of legislation. I’ve included an overview of what we worked on below.
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.
Supporters of the bill say it is a common sense measure. They say 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. They note 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. Supporters say 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.
HB 1350 would modify the laws regarding background check requirements of in-home service providers and home health agencies. Supporters say the bill would increase the number of people who can work as an in-home service provider or personal care attendant and relieve burdensome paperwork requirements on the department because 75 percent of applicants are eventually given good cause waivers. This bill would stop applicants from being flagged for minor violations, like littering or writing a bad check, which also may have occurred several years ago.
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.
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.
HB 1605 would expand the duties of the Missouri State Capitol Commission. It would grant the commission the authority to supervise and coordinate activities in the Capitol building, grounds, and annex areas including evaluating and making recommendations involving the 21st Century State Capitol Restoration Project. Supporters say the bill may help increase the presence of experts on the arts, history, and civil engineering on the commission and achieve a bipartisan devotion to ensuring the integrity and historical preservation of the Capitol building and its grounds.
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. Supporters say the bill removes a technical requirement that should not prevent students from being eligible for A+ benefits.
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. Supporters say 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.
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. Supporters say that for various reasons many returning military personnel are not ready to look for employment in the first year. The bill would allow them extra time to participate in the program.
HB 1286 would modify provisions of law relating to the detonation of explosives and actions for private nuisances brought against certain permittees. Supporters say that this increase is necessary and supported by those in the industry that would be required to pay it.
FFA State Officer Team Visits State Capitol
In what has become an annual tradition for lawmakers, the members of the FFA State Officer Team visited the State Capitol building this week to talk about the importance of agricultural education in Missouri. The group made the trip to Jefferson City in conjunction with Career and Technical Education Month to represent the more than 25,900 students around the state who participate in FFA. Their visit was highlighted by a speech made in the House Chamber by FFA President Abby Bertz. Bertz discussed the organization’s origins in Kansas City, and focused her comments on the importance of preparing the next generation of leaders. FFA prepares the next generation to meet the challenges of feeding a growing population by helping its members to develop their own unique talents and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways through their experiences in agricultural education.
Lawmakers Participate in “Wear Red Day” at the State Capitol
Lawmakers and staff were decked out in red on Tuesday, February 6 as they worked to raise awareness of cardiovascular disease. The event is part of the annual “Wear Red Day” sponsored by the American Heart Association. The event started in 2003 and is now an important tradition in the Missouri General Assembly.
By wearing red, participants hope to raise awareness of the fact that cardiovascular disease kills approximately one woman every 80 seconds. Ninety-five percent of adult women have at least one risk factor for heart disease, and almost half of women are not aware of the risks. Awareness is important because 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.
Wear Red Day helps to advocate for more research and swifter action for women’s heart health. The day helps to support educational programs to increase women’s awareness and knowledge of their own health. The American Heart Association encourages all women to know their total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and body mass index. By knowing these numbers, women and their health care providers can better understand their risk for developing cardiovascular disease.
Raising Awareness of Teen Dating Violence
The month of February is set aside each year in Missouri to raise awareness of teen dating violence. Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month was created with the passage of SB 921 by the Missouri General Assembly in 2016.
The awareness month encourages Missourians to participate in appropriate activities and events to raise awareness of abuse in teen relationships. Missouri is one of several states that have adopted teen dating violence awareness weeks or months in an effort to draw the public's attention to a national campaign that promotes prevention, healthy relationships, and offers information and resources.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 10 percent of all high school students report experiencing physical dating violence in the last year, and approximately 10 percent report experiencing sexual dating violence in that same time period. The CDC also found that among students who dated, 21 percent of female students and 10 percent of male students experienced physical and/or sexual violence.
The CDC notes that unhealthy relationships during the teen years can disrupt normal development and contribute to other unhealthy behaviors in teens that can lead to problems over a lifetime. Studies have shown that teens who experience dating violence are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, engage in unhealthy behaviors such as experimenting with tobacco, drugs and alcohol, and have thoughts about suicide. The mental and physical health consequences can extend into adulthood, and unhealthy relationships in adolescence also can create a cycle of abusive relationships.
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.