Most legislation passed during the regular session went into effect Aug. 28, including measures sponsored by Senator Kevin Engler, R-Farmington. Two priorities Sen. Engler worked on which were passed and signed by the governor included his measure allowing Missourians to properly protect themselves during disasters, and a bill protecting volunteer firefighters from facing repercussions for absences.
Under Senate Bill 257, also known as the Missouri Disaster Recovery Protection Act, state and local governments cannot prohibit or restrict the lawful possession, transfer, sale, transportation, storage, display, or use of firearms or ammunition during emergencies. The bill is a reaction to the events following Hurricane Katrina when the New Orleans police chief confiscated legal firearms. The bill was signed by the governor at the NRA convention in St. Louis earlier this year.
“This law makes is clear that a widespread emergency is no reason for our government to put Second Amendment rights on hold,” Engler said. “In fact, these are often the times when Missourians most need protection — and when law-enforcement officials are most overburdened.”
Senate Bill 47 prohibits employers from firing employees for joining a volunteer fire department or for missing work while performing in that capacity. The legislation also requires the employee to make reasonable effort to give notice to the employer and allows the employer to deduct missed hours from wages. Volunteer firefighters who do lose their jobs can file a civil suit to get their jobs back, reinstate benefits or seniority, and receive back wages. Such suits need to be filed within a year after employment is terminated. The firefighter could also have the employer pay court costs if the suit is won.
“Volunteer firefighters sacrifice their time and risk their safety to save lives in the communities they serve,” said Sen. Engler. “They should never be penalized for the valuable service they provide.”
Constitutionally, laws go into effect 90 days from when the regular session concludes unless an emergency clause is adopted. A total of 55 Senate bills went into effect this week.