After the close of House business for the week, leadership from each caucus spoke and fielded media questions:
Missouri House Democrats fielded questions from reporters after the close of work for the week.
The Missouri House has passed a plan to make the Capitol safer for those who work and visit it.
One provision of House Bill 784 would allow the Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tem to appoint marshals in their respective chambers. These marshals would have at least five years of experience in law enforcement, be licensed as a peace officer, and have to have continued training as required by the Missouri Peace Officer Standards and Training commission.
Bill sponsor Lane Roberts (R-Joplin), a former Joplin Police chief and former director of the Department of Public Safety, said the agencies responsible for Capitol security are “fragmented” and the legislature needs a security force that falls under its control.
“It’s sad that in this particular day and time we would have to do a thing like this, but given the environment that we unfortunately had to watch in Washington D.C. it’s a prudent move. These individuals would be focused on the security of the two chambers and the membership,” said Roberts.
Another provision would move control of the Capitol Police out of the Department of Public Safety and to a new Capitol Police Board. Representative Ron Hicks (R-St. Charles) has been working on this plan for several years. He shares Roberts’ concern that the public officials who work in the Capitol have no say in its security.
“This is just one of those steps that we are taking forward to make sure that the safety and security of the people that visit this building, not to mention ourselves and our families that come to visit us, are safe and secure in this building. As you know we’ve been left alone in this building as far as our security and our safety goes,” said Hicks.
The new Capitol Police Board would be made up of members appointed by the House Speaker, the Senate President, the Governor, the Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, and the chair of the State Capitol Commission.
The proposal now goes to the Senate.
Baringer = (BARE-in-jerr)
If you renew the license plates on your vehicle after August 28* you might not have to get it inspected, under a bill signed into law this month.
Senate Bill 89 will extend from five to ten years the age of a vehicle before it must be inspected every two years, as long as it has fewer than 150,000 miles on it.
That provision was sponsored by Representative J. Eggleston (R-Maysville). He had discussed vehicle inspections with a former representative who wanted to eliminate them altogether. Eggleston initially thought that would go too far, but after doing some research, he felt that there was little connection between requiring regular inspections and ensuring that vehicles on the roads are safe.
“Come to find out that 35 states no longer make their citizens get their cars inspected at all, including all of the states that touch Missouri, and I was very surprised to learn that. So that gave us the data we needed to dig in to compare the states that do have inspection programs to the states that don’t to see if there really is any safety correlation or not and I was very surprised to learn there really doesn’t seem to be much of a correlation,” said Eggleston. “Over time we were able to settle on the fact that maybe we don’t want to get rid of the program but we could pare it back some and make it less of a hassle for Missourians, especially for cars that aren’t that old or haven’t been driven that much that, by and large, don’t end up with any mechanical-related accidents anyway.”
Eggleston said the change in law would apply to roughly half of the vehicles that currently would have to be inspected and a third of the total number of vehicles on the road today.
The proposal cleared both chambers, but was met with vocal opposition from some lawmakers who thought it would make Missouri roads less safe. St. Louis representative Donna Baringer (D) said one can look at how many cars are on Missouri roads with expired temp tags to see that people won’t be responsible enough to get vehicle inspections.
“If people are not willing to even get a permanent plate or car insurance, they surely will not bother ever getting their car inspected. I feel this is just one more thing that, unfortunately right now, citizens … don’t feel the responsibility,” said Baringer. “It’s not just about protecting their safety in driving a car but it’s about protecting my safety, and so I think there’ll be more cars on the road that should not be on the road.”
Baringer said she doesn’t think vehicles in states that don’t require inspections are as safe as those in states that do, regardless of what statistics might show. She said she sees evidence of that daily in cars that cross into her St. Louis district from neighboring Illinois.
“As I was driving down 55 the other day the car next to me had Illinois plates. It actually had tape holding the bumper together. The tires were bald, and it hydroplaned around the corner,” said Baringer. “Had it hit me that would’ve meant my life was in danger because they didn’t bother to put tires on their car, much less do anything but tape the parts that were falling off. So it isn’t better in the states that don’t have the inspections.”
Eggleston thinks time will tell Missourians won’t be less safe under these changes to the inspection program.
“Cars have definitely improved in their safety features and their longevity since the days when the inspection program came about. The program started with, actually, a federal mandate back in the ‘60s, but in the 1970s the federal government backed off of that and said they would leave it up to the states, and one-by-one from the ‘70s up until just a couple of years ago 35 states have gotten rid of their program altogether,” said Eggleston. “What we’re doing to roll this back a little bit is not an unheard of thing, and I don’t anticipate any statistical change in safety at all.”
SB 89 also includes provisions that require the revocation of the driver’s license of a person who hits a highway worker or emergency responder in a work or emergency zone; and require that all homemade trailers be inspected.
- An earlier version of this story said the vehicle inspection law changes take effect January 1, 2020. It was learned that provision was not included in SB 89, so the changes take effect August 28, 2019.
The state House has backed off of a proposal to eliminate vehicle inspections in Missouri. Instead it proposes that inspections would not be required until a vehicle is 10 years old or has more than 150,000 miles on it.
An earlier version of House Bill 451 would have done away with inspections for non-commercial vehicles in Missouri. Bill sponsor J. Eggleston (R-Maysville) said he knew his colleagues had a lot of concerns about that idea, so he reworked it.
“While everyone kind of agrees that cars have gotten a lot better – crumple zones, air bags, and other safety features that have been put in that make them last longer and safer than they used to be – not everybody was cool on totally getting rid of the inspection program altogether,” said Eggleston.
Eggleston said he talked to more than 100 House members from both parties about their issues with the bill before arriving at the current language. It would push back from 5 years to 10 the age at which regular inspections of a vehicle must be done, and creates the requirement that inspections begin when a vehicle has 150,000 miles on it.
Many lawmakers said they were pleased with the changes and Eggleston’s efforts to step back from his original proposal, but some still opposed the bill.
St. Louis representative Donna Baringer (D) argued that rolling back the vehicle inspection requirement will allow more unsafe vehicles on the road.
“While I am responsible and I will have my car inspected, we had 16,000 people that were driving in 2018 on our roads that didn’t care, and it’s their lack of actions that will end up killing me on the highway,” said Baringer.
Baringer said there is no automatic way for the state to know when a given vehicle has reached 150,000 miles until it is sold.
Representative Doug Beck (D-St. Louis) said inspections target parts that wear down over time and should receive regular attention.
“I go down the road sometimes and I see some cars on the side of me that I’m real suspect if they’ve gone through any type of inspection … that will increase tenfold and we’ll have a lot of cars out there that shouldn’t be on the road, and I think it’s going to endanger families’ lives – innocent people that live by the law and do what they’re supposed to do,” said Beck.
Some argued HB 451 no longer goes far enough and argued it should still propose a complete elimination of vehicle inspections. They said none of Missouri’s eight border states require inspections.
“Have you ever driven through any of those states?” Steelville Republican Jason Chipman asked Eggleston.
“Sure,” said the bill sponsor.
“How did you make it back here? It must have been dodging all those terrible vehicles that don’t get inspections that are just falling apart constantly. How did you make it back to this body?” a sarcastic Chipman asked.
“You know, it really didn’t look a whole lot different [from] our state,” said Eggleston.
Eggleston stressed that school bus inspections in Missouri would not be changed under his legislation, and used cars will face the same inspection requirements they do now.
The House voted 102-45 to send his bill to the Senate.
The Missouri House has advanced a proposal to join 35 other states in eliminating the requirement that motor vehicles be inspected in order to be licensed.
House Bill 451 is sponsored by Maysville Republican J. Eggleston, who said when the idea was introduced to him he was opposed to it. Then he started doing research and found himself convinced that eliminating the state’s vehicle inspection program wouldn’t make Missouri roads any less safe.
“My daughter, my son, my wife, who drive on our roads, who I love more than life itself, I do not want to endanger them one iota. If I thought for a second this would harm their safety I would not bring this forward,” said Eggleston.
Eggleston said in his research he found no direct correlation between whether a state requires inspections and the number of crashes that occur there or how high its insurance rates are. He said the 15 states that still require inspections actually have a slightly higher rate of fatal accidents.
Eggleston said eliminating the program would lift significant burdens from Missourians, who pay $30-million a year in inspection fees, and must take time off from work and make other sacrifices to get inspections done.
“The other pushback is sometimes, ‘Well if it just saves one life then wouldn’t it be worth it to inconvenience everybody?’ I’m not sure that taxing or inconveniencing everybody on the odd chance you might help somebody, even though we can’t prove we’re going to help anybody, is sound government policy,” said Eggleston. “I think if the government’s going to make you go through some hassle or pay some fee they better have some stats to back it up that it’s actually making a positive difference.”
Boonville Republican Dave Muntzel said based on reports to the Missouri Highway Patrol from vehicle inspections done in the state, 18-percent of vehicles 5 or more years old do not pass inspection, and 25-percent of vehicles 10 or more years old don’t pass.
“Now we’re wanting to take vehicle inspections away and put these vehicles on the road? I don’t want any of them coming down the road at me and steering going one way or the other, or if they have to stop, or if my grandchildren happen to walk out in the street and they get hit by a car that’s got defective brakes on it. I don’t want that to happen,” said Muntzel.
Representative Donna Baringer (D-St. Louis) said no one came to testify in favor of this bill before a House committee but many people came from throughout the state to testify against it. She noted that in 2017, 15 people died in accidents related to vehicles with safety defects; and more than 15-thousand people were cited for failure to register a vehicle with the Department of Revenue.
“If we already have almost 16,000 people who do not want to get their cars inspected and we already have 15 people who have died in this state, if we do away with the safety inspections do we triple that number, or is it going to be a free-for-all, and it won’t be 15 Missourians. Will it be 50, 85; at what point does each one of those lives count?” asked Baringer.
Other lawmakers said mechanical problems with vehicles will be caught in a timely manner by regular visits to mechanics for things like oil changes, making state-required inspections unnecessary.
Ash Grove Republican Mike Moon said regular maintenance shouldn’t be mandated by the state.
“It’s our responsibility as individuals to make sure that our vehicles operate properly and safely on the roadways, and if they don’t it’s our responsibility to make sure those repairs are done in a timely manner, not waiting for an inspection,” said Moon.
The House has given initial approval to HB 451. Another favorable vote would send it to the Senate.
Missouri House Democrats say the fight against opioid abuse is about more than passing a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. They today unveiled a slate of legislation that would attack the problem by addressing a number of other issues.
Democrats continue to support passage of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program to track the use of prescription narcotics. Such legislation has advanced farther through the legislative process in each of the past few sessions, but fallen short of passage. Last year St. Louis Democrat Fred Wessels sponsored such legislation that was combined with a bill sponsored by Sikeston Republican Holly Rehder and fell just short of final passage. Both representatives will sponsor such legislation again this year.
In addition, Democrats have filed bills that would require pharmacies to post information about methods and locations for the safe disposal of unused medication; require for medical professionals with prescribing authority at least four hours of training on the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs and recognizing addiction in patients; require the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to mirror federal regulations for prescribing opioids for chronic pain; require insurance coverage of medication assisted treatment and remove insurer-proposed barriers to addiction services; establish a sterile needle and syringe exchange pilot program; require the Show-Me Healthy Babies program to cover substance abuse treatment for women up to one year post-partum; and expand the use of CBD or hemp oil to include being used as a pain management alternative for those with a history of opioid abuse.
“Substance disorders need to have an all-of-the-above approach and what we’re proposing here is just that. We’re not only talking about PDMP. We’re talking about a number of other options; tools that should basically be put in the toolbox of not just the medical community but our entire community,” said Representative Gina Mitten (D-St. Louis).
Mitten is sponsoring the bills that deal with safe disposal of abused prescription medication and additional training for prescribers.
Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. Many counties in the state are participating in a program initially launched in the St. Louis region, and Governor Eric Greitens (R) signed an executive order creating a tracking program for some prescription information handled by one benefits provider.
The legislation discussed today by House Democrats is for the 2018 legislative session, which begins January 3.
A state House member wants to expand on a Missouri law passed in 2014 that allows the use of hemp oil to treat intractable epilepsy to allow the use of that substance in treating other conditions.
Representative Donna Baringer (D-St. Louis) sponsors House Bill 937, which would allow the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil to treat several “serious conditions” as specified in the bill. That list includes cancer, HIV, AIDS, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple sclerosis, spinal cord damage, inflammatory bowel disease, as well as other diseases or their symptoms.
The bill would also drop the requirement that a patient’s epilepsy be intractable – defined by the 2014 law as epilepsy that has not responded to three or more treatment options – before he or she may use CBD oil as a treatment.
Baringer testified for the 2014 legislation, House Bill 2238. She told the House Committee on General Laws she wants to expand on that bill after learning that only 64 of about 11,000 eligible Missouri patients are using CBD oil to treat their epilepsy.
“So my question was, ‘Why is this happening?’ and the answer came to be in the original legislation we had very tightly and stringently written it, and while that was good in 2014 because this is our first time ever talking hemp oil, we’ve now found that we now need to readdress it,” said Baringer.
The committee heard from John Curtis, the production director for BeLeaf, one of the cultivators of CBD oil licensed by Missouri. He said HB 937 would ease what he called a “bottleneck,” that has resulted in so few patients in Missouri using CBD oil.
He said that bottleneck begins with the 2014 law’s requirement that a neurologist recommend CBD oil for a patient, and only for patients with intractable epilepsy.
“Because these folks have to have intractable epilepsy … they get pushed away from standard neurologists onto a specialized subset known as epileptologists. There’s just not very many of those in the state, and they’re all associated with major hospital systems that, due to conflict with federal law and potential concern about liability, will not allow doctors who have admitting privileges there to recommend this,” said Curtis.
HB 937 would change Missouri law to allow a physician to recommend CBD oil for a patient rather than specify that a neurologist must make the recommendation.
The bill would also allow a greater level of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) allowed by law in hemp oil – .9% by weight. The current limit is .3% by weight.
Baringer said increasing the limit on the amount of THC would also allow the treatment of more conditions with CBD oil, and it will still not give a patient a “high.”
HB 937 would also allow the state to issue 10 licenses for the cultivation of cannabis. Currently only two may be issued. Baringer said with only two cultivators in the state, many Missouri users of CBD oil are getting it from out-of-state suppliers.
The committee also heard from Sandra Davis of Imperial who had been using opioid pain relievers after surgery for oral cancer, and then began using CBD oil. She said before using CBD oil she was in so much pain she could not eat or talk, and her doctor was about to put her on a feeding tube.
“When I took the CBD oil I did not have to take my pain medication. I mean zero – none at all. It increased my appetite because I could actually eat. I could move my jaw,” said Davis. Through tears she continued, “I can’t get CBD oil. I don’t qualify. I don’t want someone to ship it illegally to me and that makes me a criminal … I can get 400 OxyContin at one time and become addicted. If you could just expand this bill for people like me who are cancer patients.”
The committee on General Laws is expected to vote on House Bill 937 as early as Thursday.