The House has voted to require insurance companies to cover therapies for developmentally disabled children in Missouri, which would expand on a 2010 law that required coverage for therapy for children with autism.
House Bill 399 would prohibit companies from limiting coverage in fully insured plans for physical, cognitive, emotional, mental, or developmental disabilities. That is less than one-third of the existing plans in the state, covering somewhere between 1,800 and 6,000 children.
The legislation is sponsored by Rocheport representative Chuck Basye (R). He said for children to be able to continue treatments when they are young could help them avoid long-term needs and issues later in life.
One of the driving forces behinds Basye’s interest in the issue is his relationship with a constituent, 9-year-old Nathan, whose mother Basye met during his campaign for reelection. Nathan is one of the children who could benefit from the passage of HB 399, if only indirectly.
The Missouri House has voted to keep judges from putting people back in jail for failing to pay for the costs of keeping them in jail.
House Bill 192 would keep a person’s failure to pay a jail for housing that person, from resulting in more jail time that would result in additional housing costs. Instead, a local sheriff could attempt to collect such costs owed through civil proceedings, or a judge could waive those costs.
HB 192 has broad, bipartisan support, as members of both parties agreed that being jailed for failing to pay so-called “board bills” only created a cycle of debt that some Missourians have been trapped in for years. Legislators gave examples of individuals who had stolen items like makeup or candy, and years later owe tens of thousands of dollars to the local jails that had housed them.
HB 192 would do away with hearings in which the court requires a defendant to show why he or she shouldn’t be jailed for failing to pay board bills. Lawmakers heard that defendants are often required to appear monthly for such hearings and a warrant is issued for them if they fail to appear.
The bill is supported by a number of groups including the Missouri State Public Defender, the Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.
The House voted 156-1 to send the bill to the Senate for its consideration.
The Missouri House has voted to enact a number of ethics reforms for local officials, but support for the bill was tempered by an amendment that creates exemptions to the state’s open records, or “Sunshine,” law.
House Bill 445 extends to local officials the ethics policies that state lawmakers and statewide officials are now subject to. It would bar lobbyists from making expenditures for local government officials, superintendents, or members of school boards or charter school governing boards. Such expenditures could also not be made for those officials’ staffs or specific members of their families.
The bill would also keep elected or appointed local officials from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office. It would limit to $5 per day the amount a gift to such officials can cost, and cap at $2000 any campaign contributions for municipal, political subdivision, and special district office races.
A previous year’s version of Dogan’s bill received 149 votes when the House sent it to the Senate. This year’s version passed out of the House on Thursday, 103-47. Democrats said the lessening of support was due to an amendment to Dogan’s bill that they say “guts” Missouri’s open records law that has been in place since 1973.
The amendment, offered by Representative Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon), would add to exemptions from the Sunshine law any personal cell phone numbers, social security numbers or home addresses; records of constituent case files including any correspondence between an elected official and a constituent; and any document or record “received or prepared by or on behalf of” an elected or appointed official “consisting of advice, opinions, and recommendations in connection with the deliberative decision-making process of said body.”
The Missouri House has approved a bill aimed at increasing security at the state’s only nuclear power plant.
House Bill 1797, called the “Nuclear Power Plant Security Guard Act,” would create the offense of “trespass on a nuclear power plant, and make it punishable by up to four years in prison. The bill also allows armed guards at the plant to use or threaten physical or deadly force if they believe it necessary to protect themselves or others protects them from civil liability for conduct covered in the bill.
The bill passed 134-8. One of those 8 “no” votes was cast by Kirkwood Democrat Deb Lavender, who said guards at Callaway already have the authority the Act would allow, including authority to use deadly force when there is a “reasonable belief” that it is necessary.
HB 2034 would also allow Missouri manufacturers to import hemp from other states where it can be grown. Currently they must get it from other nations because of laws that prohibit transport across state lines.
The bill would allow the cultivation of hemp with less than .3-percent THC, the main psychoactive component of cannabis.
That earned the bill support from legislators with a law enforcement background, including Galen Higdon (R-St. Joseph), who is a retired Buchanon County deputy sheriff. He said it has no value as an illegal drug.
During debate several lawmakers raised the question of whether Curtman’s legislation should be tied to legalization of marijuana. Others, including St. Louis Democrat Deb Lavender, said the topics should be kept separate.
Grant City Republican Allen Andrews was one of the four “no” votes on HB 2034. He said the state Highway Patrol opposes it and said other law enforcement consider hemp as a first step toward legalization of marijuana.
Curtman said the Patrol is neutral on his legislation.
Farm groups have said that adding industrial hemp to a crop rotation can lead to an increase in yields. Hemp also grows well in poor soil, including land not suitable for more typical crops such as corn or soybeans.
The bill goes to the Senate where in past years similar legislation has been passed out of a committee but has not been passed by the full chamber.
No one spoke in favor of eliminating recess except Ono and her fellow 4th grade teacher Brigette Ryan.
Children argued that recess gives them time in sunlight during which they are exposed to healthy Vitamin-D, that it gives them time to interact socially, and that studies have shown that children need time for unstructured play in order to thrive.
4th grader Keaton Coldwater said sometimes kid need a break just like adults.
The student committee held a vote and the mock bill to eliminate recess was defeated 11-0. Lavender noted this was the third year such a proposal had been offered and defeated, and she expects it will come up again for future students to consider.
The Missouri legislature did not act to override any of Governor Eric Greitens’ (R) vetoes of its legislation in the veto session that began Wednesday at noon.
The House was asked to consider overriding one veto; that of House Committee Bill 3. That bill would have reduced cuts to reimbursement rates for nursing homes and in-home care providers by taking $35-million from surpluses in multiple state funds. Governor Greitens called the proposal unconstitutional and a one-time fix to a long-term issue.
House and Senate leadership confirmed Wednesday those chambers would work together to create within three weeks a new funding solution to preserve care for the more than 8,000 Missourians who would be impacted by those cuts.
The House voted not to overturn that veto, 49-106, with most Republicans voting to sustain.
Kirkwood Democrat Deb Lavender was the chief architect of the idea of a “fund sweep,” as called for by HCB 3. She made the motion to overturn the veto.
House Republicans said voting to override the veto wouldn’t accomplish anything because the wording of HCB 3 gives the Greitens’ administration the option of sweeping those funds, so he could still elect not to do it even if the bill were passed.
If they are successful, the legislature would next be asked to consider voting to call itself into special session to consider that plan. That would require approval by at least three-fourths of the legislators in each chamber.
Democrats were not convinced that the answer is to wait for a new plan to be developed.
The Missouri House has passed a Senate bill that proposes new restrictions on abortion. The House made several changes to the bill, so it goes back to the Senate for consideration.
The bill would allow the attorney general to prosecute abortion law violations without first involving local prosecutors; repeal a St. Louis ordinance that bars discrimination in housing and employment against women who have had an abortion, use birth control, or are pregnant; and require annual, unannounced state inspections of abortion facilities, among other provisions.
Franklin said a key provision for her is language that would require that all tissue removed after an abortion is sent to a pathologist, rather than a sample as is required now. A pathologist would have to account for all tissue and note any issues. The Department of Health would follow up any inconsistencies with an investigation. It would also report annually to the legislature all information it gathers regarding fetal tissue handling.
Franklin has carried various forms of such language going back several sessions, after a series of videos emerged alleging that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue after abortions.
Democrats are critical of information given out at alternatives to abortion agencies, saying it is medically inaccurate and skewed toward discouraging a woman from having an abortion. Republicans say the agencies give women information with which they can form their own decisions.
The legislature returned to Jefferson City in a special session to consider abortion legislation at the call of Governor Eric Greitens (R). Democrats used debate of SB 5 to criticize the governor for what they said was a stunt meant to help him politically.
The state legislature has passed a budget proposal that for the first time fully funds the current form of the K-12 education funding formula. The $27.7-billion spending plan for the fiscal year that begins July 1 would pump $48-million more dollars into the state’s public schools, providing them with nearly $3.4-billion.
The inclusion of full funding of the formula was a personal win for House Budget Committee Chairman Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob).
House Democrats including Representative Deb Lavender (Kirkwood) say they are pleased with the funding increase, but point out that the legislature passed last year a bill reinstating a cap on how much the formula can grow year-to-year.
The legislature’s proposal would also restore funding for school transportation, which Governor Eric Greitens (R) had proposed cutting.
The House and Senate voted to send that budget to Greitens Thursday, one day ahead of the constitutional deadline, and one day after selected House and Senate conferees finalized a compromise between each chamber’s proposals.
The budget proposed this week by the Missouri House attempts to strengthen an attempt started last year to defund abortion providers.
The current fiscal year’s budget includes language that intended to keep all money appropriated by it from going to hospitals or clinics that perform abortions. Yukon Republican Robert Ross proposed that prohibition, and said it needed to be strengthened.
The House voted to adopt language offered by Ross for this year’s budget to use the definition of “abortion services” found elsewhere in state law. Republicans including Sonya Anderson of Springfield said they hope this will clarify to the Department the legislature’s intent.
The statutory definition of “abortion services” includes not only performing abortions, but encouraging or referring a patient to have one. Raytown Representative Jerome Barnes (D) said that means facilities besides Planned Parenthood could lose money.
Ross’ amendment was adopted 115-35. It is now part of the proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 that the House has sent to the Senate for its consideration. The Senate will begin its work on that proposal next week.