The Missouri House has again voted to renounce the 1852 decision by the Missouri Supreme Court that denied Scott and his family their freedom.
Scott had argued that he, his wife, and his two children were free because they had lived in the state of Illinois, where slavery was not legal. The Missouri Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling and said they were still slaves. The case preceded another suit in which the U.S. Supreme Court also found against Scott and his family.
The Missouri House has voted to tell schools in the state to enact guidelines on when students may be secluded or restrained, and to require that when it happens, the student’s parents or guardians must be notified. The bipartisan effort began when practices that one lawmaker called “archaic” came to light.
The chamber approved 149-1House Bill 387 filed by Representative Dottie Bailey (R-Eureka). It would require schools to have policies in place for when a student can be placed in seclusion or restrained, and that those things only happen when there is imminent danger of harm to the student’s self or others.
In addition to the notification requirement the bill also includes protections for those who report violations of that policy.
Representative Ian Mackey (D-St. Louis) brought the issue to the legislature after seeing reporting on the practices in some schools. He and Bailey worked to bring the legislation forward. He said most schools in Missouri haven’t been doing anything wrong and won’t have to change any practices because of this bill.
Similar legislation passed out of the House last year and was approved by a Senate committee before COVID interrupted the normal business of the 2020 session.
Bailey said it was important to add to this year’s bill the protection for those who bring to light misuses of restraints and seclusion. She said teachers who brought evidence of violations to a House committee last year faced retaliation.
A bipartisan effort to regulate when students can be restrained or isolated in Missouri schools is off to a quick start in the 2020 legislative session.
Representatives Dottie Bailey (R-Eureka) and Ian Mackey (D-St. Louis) have filed identical bills that would ban the use of seclusion or restraint except when students, teachers, or staff face safety concerns. House Bills 1568 (Bailey) and 1569 (Mackey) would also require that when such measures are used, all parties involved except students write a report on the incident, and require that parents or guardians be notified that the measures were applied to their student.
Mackey first filed the legislation last year, after media reports brought to light the use of those measures in Missouri. He said in the last year he has seen “tiny, empty closets built and designed solely for the purpose of isolating small children,” in Missouri schools.
House Bill 1568 will be heard Tuesday morning by the House Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education. This afternoon, Mackey and Bailey spoke to the media joined by parents who say their children have been restrained or secluded in an unacceptable manner.
They also displayed pictures of the some of the isolation rooms they have seen in Missouri schools, including one in the school that Shawan Daniels said her son was put in, in a Columbia school.
The legislation would require districts to enact policies limiting the use of restraints and isolation, but does not propose penalties for violating those limitations. Both representatives say they are open to adding language to create penalties.
He said Illinois has had the same language he filed last year in its laws for 20 years but it was not being followed.
The lawmakers are enthused that this legislation is moving quickly in the first days of the legislative session that began last week. They said it shows House leadership considers this an important issue.
House Bills 1568 (Bailey) and 1569 (Mackey) would ban the use of seclusion and restraint except when there are health or safety concerns for students, teachers, or staff; require that when restraint or seclusion are used that all parties involved except students write a report on the incident; and require the notification of parents or guardians of the incident within 24 hours. It would allow parents or guardians access to all reports on the incident and the right to a meeting to review it, and allow them to file a complaint with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Bailey said just as important is that the legislation would put into state law a definition of seclusion and restraint.
The Missouri House has voted to create a statewide monitoring program for drug prescriptions. Backers hope such a law would combat the abuse of prescription drugs and help prevent conflicts between medications. Opponents say it would violate Missourians’ constitutional right to privacy.
House Bill 188 would create an online database that physicians and pharmacists could use to track pill purchases and pharmacy visits. Missouri is the only state in the U.S. without such a system, statewide. A program launched in the St. Louis region several years ago now covers 67 of the state’s 114 counties, encompassing about 87-percent of its population.
The bill cleared the House 103-53. Republicans who opposed it were very vocal about fears that the program would create a government database that would jeopardize Missourians’ medical information.
Backers say no other PDMP database has ever been successfully hacked and say this would fall under Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy protections. Blue Springs Republican Dan Stacy remained critical, and said that to say databases won’t get hacked is, “probably somewhat naïve.”
Eureka Republican Dottie Bailey said she remembered being a concealed carry permit holder when, under the administration of Governor Jay Nixon, information about those permit holders was shared with the Department of Homeland Security.
Other lawmakers expressed frustration that all attempts to amend the bill were rejected. Among those amendments were proposals to require physicians and pharmacists to participate in the database – the bill would make that optional – and to create penalties for failure to participate.
HB 188 now goes to the Senate, where past years’ versions have run into opposition and stalled out. While the senator who led that opposition is no longer in that chamber due to term limits, last week the Senate version of Rehder’s bill stalled in a tie committee vote.
Rehder and other backers note that all members of that committee were present for the vote, and she believes that outcome isn’t representative of the chances of passing a PDMP bill this year.