Work not done for interim committee on mental health

      An interim panel on mental health policy will hold at least two more hearings according to its chairman, who says its members are taking in information like “drinking water out of a firehose.”

Representative Wayne Wallingford (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      The committee has already heard issues including that there is a staffing shortfall within the Department of Mental Health, and that Missouri ranks 31st in the U.S. for access to mental health services. 

      Chairman Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau) said after hearing from state organizations in the first hearing and non-profits in the second, the committee will take testimony on November 3 from individuals with experience dealing with mental health issues.

      “Either because they’re a guardian for someone or they have a son or a relative affected by that, or maybe even themselves,” said Wallingford.

      Wallingford said the committee has drawn a great deal of attention already.

      “I thought maybe I could get it done in three meetings,” said Wallingford.  “I’ve already got the November 3 meeting full and working on the November 10th meeting and it’s probably at least a third full already … so it’s generated a lot of interest and that’s good.”

      Wallingford anticipates there will be legislation in the 2022 legislative session that will stem from these hearings.  He doesn’t have specific bills in mind, but he has his eye on some pilot programs that he feels have been working well in the Columbia area.

      “If we can do something to spread that around the state that would be great.”

      Wallingford said the committee also heard that law enforcement officers often find themselves sitting at hospital bedsides by those who have been arrested and suffer from mental health issues, until a space in mental health institutions can be found for them. 

“If there’s anything we can do legislative-wise to increase the number of beds, that would really, really help.”

      The committee will prepare a report before the session begins in January, and from its findings could come more legislative proposals. 

Missouri college athletes to be able to profit from name, likeness under House bill

      Student athletes in Missouri colleges and universities can now profit off of their name, image, and likeness and hire an agent, under House legislation that has been signed into law.  The change would be effective beginning July 1 of next year and comes after the NCAA adopted a new policy on the matter.

Representative Nick Schroer (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communciations)

      Representative Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) was one sponsor of a proposal on the subject.  He said even before other states began passing such legislation, he saw it as an issue of freedom.

      He said students who weren’t athletes could make money, especially on social media, or sign endorsements.  This included anything from teaching piano lessons for pay to having a popular YouTube channel on a subject that could have nothing to do with what they were studying.

      “However if you’re a student athlete, the walls of liberty are blocked off, and for me it wasn’t fair.  Our free market should be something that everyone can take advantage of in our state and across the nation.  That was the biggest compelling point for me,” said Schroer.

      Representative Wes Rogers (D-Kansas City) agreed with that and other points, and noted that as long as Missouri didn’t have this kind of law its institutions were at a disadvantage in recruiting, to counterparts in other states.

      “We’re seeing that,” said Rogers.  “I represent parts of Kansas City and they didn’t do it in Kansas and they’re worried about us, and so absolutely it’s going to help.  Every state [with an SEC school that Mizzou plays against] have passed this, so if we didn’t pass it we would fall even further behind.”

      Rogers said this wasn’t just an issue for football and basketball programs in major schools.

      “This actually got started by women’s athletes in the PAC-12 out west who were Olympic-level athletes who were sleeping in their cars.  So you’ve got these women who are winning national titles on a track that can’t afford their basic needs because their scholarship doesn’t go far enough … it wasn’t big time football that got this rolling,” said Rogers.

Representative Wes Rogers (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      Schroer said it also just makes sense to let students begin making money with which they can begin to control their educational debt even before they graduate.  He thinks it is that argument that led to many lawmakers supporting the language.

      “Let’s allow this freedom across the board – the same freedom that’s made this country phenomenal, the same freedom that has allowed people to pull themselves out of poverty.  I think we’ll be able to tackle this student debt issue by allowing this freedom here in the State of Missouri.”

      Colleges that use students’ names, images, and likenesses in commercial deals would have to have a financial development program for each of those students once a year.  Students who have entered into endorsements could not display a company’s name or logo during team activities if that display would conflict with the school’s contracts and licenses.

      The NCAA’s new policy adopted earlier this year allows students to profit off their name, image, or likeness within the bounds of their state’s laws.

      The language passed as part of House Bill 297, sponsored by Representative Wayne Wallingford (R-Cape Girardeau).