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House approves the strongest Pro-Life legislation

House approves the strongest Pro-Life legislation

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On the first day of the 2019 legislative session, House Speaker Elijah Haahr made it clear the House of Representatives stands for the born and the unborn. This week House members made good on that promise by passing what supporters are calling the strongest piece of pro-life legislation in the nation.

The bill would prohibit physicians from performing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat or brain function is detected, which is typically around 6-8 weeks gestational age. Because similar provisions have been struck down in other states, the bill contains additional clauses to protect the lives of the unborn. Should the fetal heartbeat requirement not stand, Missouri law would prohibit all abortions past 14 weeks gestational age. If that provision doesn’t stand, the bill would implement a “Pain-Capable” standard that would prohibit abortions past 18 weeks gestational age.

The legislation also states it is the intent of the state of Missouri to prohibit all abortions in the state under any circumstances. The comprehensive ban on abortion would go into effect if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, or if changes are made at the federal level to empower states to further regulate abortion. The only exception to the abortion ban would be in the case of a medical emergency.

The sponsor of the bill told his colleagues that Missouri is not like states such as New York and Virginia, which have loosened restrictions on late-term abortions. He said, “We’re not for late-term abortions. We’re not for unrestricted abortions. I think here in Missouri we know that life is precious. We know that we want to give women, men, and young people the choice; the choice to live.”

The legislation also changes the parental notification requirement in Missouri to require a minor trying to obtain an abortion to have the consent of both parents, with some exceptions. The legislation also prohibits selective abortions due to sex, race, or an adverse diagnosis in utero. Furthermore, it requires that any referral for an abortion from a provider out-of-state be accompanied by all Missouri informed consent materials.

The sponsor said the bill is “the strongest, most comprehensive pro-life bill in the nation that we truly believe is going to withstand judicial scrutiny.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for discussion.

House members came together in bipartisan fashion this week to approve legislation that would make it a felony to possess or distribute the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl and certain date-rape drugs.

The measure would make it a first- or second-degree felony to possess or traffic fentanyl — which can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin — and derivatives such as the even more powerful carfentanil. Penalties range from three years to life in prison, depending on the amount of the drug. The legislation would not apply to people with prescriptions for fentanyl.

According to data from Missouri's Department of Health and Senior Services, more than 950 people died of opioid overdoses in 2017 in Missouri. Fentanyl is particularly dangerous because the equivalent of four grains of salt could kill someone. Abuse of fentanyl has steadily increased between 2013 and 2017, and doctors have said many people are being treated in emergency rooms because they took heroin mixed with fentanyl.

The sponsor of the bill told his colleagues, "The opioid epidemic has been something that has plagued every town (and) every city across this state and across our nation. We're finding ways to combat the opioid epidemic and the very powerful drug of fentanyl."

Supporters note that fentanyl traffickers have been prosecuted under current laws because the drug is often mixed with other opioids, such as heroin. They say it’s important to add fentanyl to the state's drug trafficking laws because it's now being sold on its own. That's left a loophole for distributors selling pure fentanyl to lower-level drug traffickers, who then can mix it with other drugs and sell it to individuals.

The legislation also would make it a felony to possess or traffic the date-rape drugs GHB and the drug commonly known as Rohypnol. The sponsor of the provision told her colleagues, “If we’re going to take a hard stance on human trafficking it needs to include these substances.”

The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Legislation approved this week by the Missouri House would prevent do-not-resuscitate orders from being issued for Missouri children without a parent being aware.

Commonly referred to as “Simon’s Law”, the legislation would prohibit a health care facility, nursing home, physician, nurse, or medical staff from putting such an order in a child’s file without a parent’s permission. That permission may be written, or given orally in the presence of at least two witnesses.

The sponsor of the bill said, “This is a parental rights bill that says only you can determine the outcome for your child.”

The bill is named for Simon Crosier, who died at three months old after a do-not-resuscitate order was put on his chart without his parents’ knowledge. His parents testified to a House Committee last year that when the monitors in his room went off as he died, they did not understand why medical staff did not respond to try to save him.

The bill’s sponsor said that under “Simon’s Law,” doctors will have to have a conversation with parents about the care of their child, “so that when the buzzers go off and your child codes, no one stands there like the Crosiers did wondering why no one shows up.”

The bill is now under consideration in the Senate.

Legislation is now headed to the Senate that is meant to put thousands of Missourians on a fast track to develop the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs. The bill would create a new state financial aid program known as Fast-Track that would address workforce needs by encouraging adults to pursue an industry-recognized credential in an area designated as high need.

The bill sponsor noted that Missouri has the seventh most diversified economy and ranks among the top 10 states in high school graduation rates, but lags in postsecondary degree or credential attainment. She noted that around 755,000 Missourians have some college experience but no degree, meaning there are thousands of individuals who could take advantage of the innovative Fast-Track program.

The goal of Fast-Track is to provide community colleges, tech schools, and universities with the means to equip students for the high-paying, high-demand jobs of the future. It is designed to open up higher education opportunities for hard-working, middle-class families looking for a boost to pursue their dreams. It is also meant to help Missouri businesses find workers with the training needed to fill their workforce demands.

Fast-Track is a needs-based scholarship targeted at adults age 25 and older who are working toward a certification, undergraduate degree or industry-recognized credential for a high demand occupation. To be eligible, a student must be at least 25 years of age, not have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, and have an adjusted gross income of less than $40,000 for an individual and $80,000 for a married couple filing jointly. If approved, a Missourian could attend an approved Missouri postsecondary institution of their choice and have their tuition and fees paid for by the program. The program is a “last-dollar” program and will be applied after all federal non-loan aid, state student aid, and any other governmental student financial aid are applied.

Before receiving final approval from the House, members approved an amendment to place a three-year sunset on the program. The program could be reauthorized by the legislature.

Others Bills Approved by the House and Sent to the Senate:

HB 303 changes the laws regarding prison canteen funds. Supporters say the bill is for the benefit of offenders and money received from commissary purchases goes toward the purchase of supplies for the centers. This could be used for reentry services and will hopefully reduce recidivism rates.

HB 70 prohibits two-way telecommunications devices and their component parts in correctional centers and jails. Supporters say the bill adds cell phones to the list of items prohibited in prisons. In the last three years, there were 80 cell phones found in the possession of offenders, and they were active phones.

HB 461 authorizes the next-of-kin of a deceased person to delegate control of the final disposition of the remains. Supporters say the bill legalizes a process that has been done for a while, and it helps streamline the death certificate issue they have with the electronic system.

HB 354 changes the law regarding the financial protection of vulnerable populations. Supporters say the bill is a consumer protection bill for the state's most vulnerable citizens. It does not expand liability for advisors and allows fraudulent transactions or disbursements to be stopped.

HB 441 modifies provisions relating to prisoner complaints made against a psychologist license. Supporters say the bill will protect state employee psychologists from unfounded complaints from state-ordered investigations.

HBs 743 & 673 establishes the "Cronkite New Voices Act," which provides that in both public high schools and public institutions of higher education a student journalist has the right to exercise freedom of speech and of the press in school-sponsored media. Supporters say the bill will ensure appropriate press freedom for student newspapers and other communications.

HB 219 Changes the sunset on the Ticket to Work Health Assurance Program from August 28, 2019 to August 28, 2025. The Ticket to Work Program is a program that provides health coverage or assistance paying for health insurance premiums for an employed person who meets the definition of disabled. Supporters say that by extending the sunset on the program, the law would continue to assist individuals with disabilities receiving healthcare services, and would allow them to continue living more independent lives.

HB 599 changes the laws regarding financial institutions by simplifying filing requirements. Supporters say the bill updates old statues by removing provisions that are not necessary in the modern day, while keeping functions and responsibilities the same.

HB 678 clarifies that a conservatorship is not necessary for individuals or families using ABLE accounts, which are created with the purpose of helping Missouri’s disabled individuals and their family save money for disability-related expenses. Supporters say the bill fulfills the original intent of the ABLE program which is to allow for tax free growth in investment accounts for the purpose of helping disabled individuals.

HB 207 allows Missouri driver's license applicants to elect to have a medical alert notation placed on the person's driver's license or nondriver's identification card. Supporters say the bill will provide relevant information to police and first responders and ensure better medical treatment. Privacy is also protected in a reasonable manner and consent to disclose information is required.

As always, it is a pleasure to serve you, and please contact my office if you need anything!

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