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Governor signs several important bills into law

Last week I wrote about several pieces of legislation the governor vetoed which will be considered during the annual veto session in September. This week I am writing about legislation that the governor signed into law. Some of those items include:

Child Abuse Investigations – HB 1092 will give child abuse investigators more time to complete their work and task a joint committee with looking for ways to improve abuse and neglect proceedings. The bill allows caseworkers in the Children’s Division to have 45 calendar days to complete investigations rather than the current limit of 30 days. The bill also requires the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect to recommend improvements for abuse and neglect proceedings including examining the role of the judge, Children’s Division, the juvenile officer, the guardian ad litem and the foster parents.

Developing Missouri-Based Education Standards – HB 1490 allows the state to reject the federal Common Core standards and begin a process of developing Missouri-based student achievement benchmarks. Specifically, the bill allows districts to continue with the Common Core standards that are already in place, but would create teams to develop new standards to be put in place by the 2016 academic year. Under the bill, the work groups will be made up of teachers, parents and other experts who will work to develop standards for English, math, science and history. The bill also protects schools from being penalized for poor performance on the Common Core tests while they remain in place.

Right to Try – HB 1685 is commonly referred to as “Right to Try” legislation and is designed to give Missourians battling a terminal illness better access to potentially life-saving treatments. The bill allows terminally ill patients under the care of licensed doctors to access investigational drugs that have passed basic safety tests but whose efficacy is not yet conclusive. The bill expedites the process for patients fighting a terminal illness who don’t have the time to wait for the full FDA approval process that can often take as long as a decade.

Criminal Code Revision – SB 491 comprehensively revises the state’s criminal code for the first time in more than three decades. The bill creates a new classification of misdemeanor and a new classification of felony to better allow the punishment to appropriately fit increasing levels of severity of criminal activity. The bill also greatly increases the punishments for individuals who sexually abuse children and for assault crimes in general. In addition, it deals much more harshly with habitual drunk drivers who endanger others on the road, and creates a stair-step approach for drug-related crimes that would give additional flexibility to prosecutors, defense attorneys and courts in the disposition of drug-related cases.

Helping Drug Overdose Victims – HB 2040 will allow first responders in Missouri to potentially save the lives of victims of drug overdose. The bill allows qualified first responders to a drug known as naloxone to individuals suffering from an apparent narcotic or opiate-related overdose. Naloxone is a medication used to counter the effects of opioid overdose from drugs such as morphine or heroin. The bill also allows pharmacies to sell Naloxone to qualified first responder agencies.

MO RX Prescription Drug Program Extension – SB 754 extends the MO RX Prescription Drug Program that provides prescription drug assistance to more than 200,000 low-income and disabled seniors. The program was set to expire this year, but the bill extends it until 2017. The bill also clarifies that income limits for eligibility will be subject to appropriations, but strictly prohibits applicants with an income greater than 185 percent of the federal poverty level.

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