House lawmakers are being asked to consider another measure meant to help victims of domestic violence get away from abusers and move on with their lives.
Often individuals who have left a home where abuse occurs have left behind birth certificates, as well as other documents and identification that they must get new copies of but cannot without those certificates. The fee to get a new copy is often a burden to a survivor faced with numerous other expenses while trying to start down a new path in life, according to Representative Chris Dinkins (R-Annapolis).
Dinkins is sponsoring House Bill 1135, which would allow people working with a shelter to get free copies of birth certificates.
She was presented with the proposal by the Southeast Missouri Family Violence Council. Assistant Director Tracy Carroll told the House Committee on Children and Families that abusers often use vital documents in their efforts to control a victim.
Carroll said most of the women that come into their shelter need this kind of help. Last year that included 200 of the 263 people that came in, yet the shelter, which is a nonprofit agency, had no budget for securing new copies of documents.
In one case Carroll said a mother in the shelter had eight children. At $15 dollars apiece, that was a particular hardship for her as she tried to get them enrolled in school while escaping an abusive situation.
Carroll said any cost the State of Missouri sees would be offset by victims being able to get their lives on track.
An individual would have to provide documentation from a shelter to prove that he or she is involved with such an agency. The bill would only allow the fee for each eligible individual’s birth certificate to be waived one time.
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.