House considers further reduction in vehicle safety inspection requirements

      A state representative who several years ago championed an easing of Missouri’s vehicle safety inspection law says it’s time to make more vehicles exempt.

Representative J. Eggleston (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      Senate Bill 89, passed in 2019, rolled back that law.  Since it was enacted, safety inspections have not been required on vehicles that have fewer than 150,000 miles and are up to ten years old.  That portion of SB 89 was proposed by Representative J. Eggleston (R-Maysville)

      He says in the time since that law passed Missouri’s roads have been no less safe.

      “[SB 89] got rid of about half of the cars that needed to be inspected from being inspected … here we are, two or three years later, I’ve looked, I have not found any sudden burst of cars falling apart and causing accidents so I think we’re ready to get rid of [vehicle inspections],” Eggleston told the House Committee on Downsizing State Government.

      Eggleston’s proposal, however, wouldn’t completely eliminate inspections in Missouri.  Under House Bill 2499, all vehicles made since 2012 and having fewer than 150,000 miles would be exempt.

      “I toyed with just doing an all-out, getting rid of it all at once … but because of some of the consternation [about the 2019 proposal], I thought we’ll just ease out of it,” said Eggleston.  “So I basically said, ‘Any car that’s not being inspected today is not ever going to have to be inspected.  Any of them that are inspected today will continue’ … so over time this will just naturally phase itself out.”

      Eggleston’s idea has some support, including from O’Fallon representative Tony Lovasco (R)

      “I do think that ultimately, as technology increases, we’re going to see more and more construction improvements made and what not where [inspections are] really going to be completely superfluous very soon, and I think it does makes sense to have it just drop off naturally rather than us revisiting this every few years,” said Lovasco.

      Representative Michael Burton (D-Lakeshire) doesn’t support extending the 2019 legislation.  He said for him it’s an issue of safety.

      “Let’s talk about a cracked windshield.  That’s something that’s inspected whenever the car goes through an inspection, and I know we have laws where you can’t drive around with a cracked windshield but we also know that police officers right now are generally not pulling people over for that, but I think that can be a safety issue … same thing with seatbelts.  Whenever you get a car inspection they’re checking to make sure all the seatbelts work and what not.  That’s a safety concern of mine.”

      Eggleston said there are 35 states which have no vehicle inspection requirements, and that includes all the states that border Missouri.  He said that hasn’t made their roads less safe than those states who have such a requirement.

      “Their statistics on accidents and deaths are no different than ours.  There’s no correlation between states that have inspection programs and safety at all,” said Eggleston.  “The safety issue you were talking about, it’s perceived but I don’t think it’s actual. There’s no data to back that up.”

      The committee’s top Democrat, Gretchen Bangert (Florrisant), opposed the 2019 legislation and has reservations about taking it further.  She also dislikes that the 2019 law allows vehicles to be sold without an inspection, and wishes this bill would reverse that.

      “So I could have a car that’s a junker and has some sort of issue, and if you don’t know because you don’t get an inspection yourself and just trust me, then the car hasn’t been inspected.  That’s one loophole that I wish we could look at is if you were selling a car to another person that it would have to be inspected regardless of the miles,” said Bangert. 

      Eggleston said it is up to a potential buyer to decide whether to get an inspection on a vehicle they’re considering purchasing.

      His 2019 legislation, as a stand-alone before it was amended onto SB 89, passed out of the House 102-45.

      The committee has not voted on HB 2499.

Previous stories:

Bill rolling back vehicle inspection requirement signed into law

House votes to roll back, rather than eliminate, vehicle inspection requirements

House bill would require ignition interlocks after first DUI

      Missourians would have to have their vehicles equipped with ignition interlock devices after their first drunk driving conviction, under a bill under consideration in the House.

Representative Mark Sharp (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      Ignition interlock devices prevent a vehicle from starting if they register too great of an alcohol content in a breath test.  Current law requires a person to have a previous conviction for driving while intoxicated before restricting them to driving only vehicles equipped with such a device.  Under House Bill 1680 a court must prohibit anyone convicted of an intoxicated driving offense from driving unequipped vehicles for at least six months.

      Kansas City representative Mark Sharp (D) sponsors it.

      “It’s really about saving lives,” said Sharp.  “If you’ve had too many drinks when you’re leaving the bar and you can’t pass the test, you can’t drive.  That forces people to look at other options as far as Uber or having a friend come and pick them up, but it stops that person who is intoxicated from getting behind the wheel.”

      Sharp believes his bill would be a deterrent, not just by keeping people from driving drunk but by making them want to avoid a situation in which they could.

      “This should stop some folks from wanting to go out and getting drunk and driving too, because after your first offense you would be required to have [an ignition interlock device] instead of after your second or third,” said Sharp.  “I do think this will stop some folks.  If this gets promoted the right way hopefully we can get folks to not want to do it as much.”

      Sharp’s bill has had a hearing before the House Committee on Crime Prevention, which is chaired by former Police Chief and Department of Public Safety Director Lane Roberts (R-Joplin).  He expressed support for the idea.

      “I began my police career in 1971.  At that time the presumptive [blood alcohol content] level was .15 – nearly twice what it is today.  Even then we were killing about 25,000 people a year, nationally, due to drunk driving,” said Roberts.  “Anything that makes that activity more difficult certainly has my support and I appreciate [Representative Sharp] putting this forward.”

      Mothers Against Drunk Driving told the Committee that between 2006 and 2020, interlocks stopped 128,196 attempts to drive drunk in Missouri, with more than 11,000 of those incidents in 2020.  DUI deaths reportedly decreased by 15% in states that enacted laws such as HB 1680.

      The committee has not voted on Sharp’s legislation.

Bill would make cost to apply for law enforcement jobs more manageable

      A bill aimed at addressing a shortage of law enforcement officers has advanced through a House committee.

Representative Lane Roberts (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      House Bill 1703 is sponsored by Representative Lane Roberts (R-Joplin), who was a chief of police in multiple communities including Joplin and is a past director of the Department of Public Safety.  He said before a person can apply for employment as a law enforcement officer in Missouri they must first have their license. 

      “What that means is the officer is going to invest somewhere around $6,000 and, depending on whether they attend the day academy or night academy, four to six months of their lives with no guarantee of a job.  The result, in some cases, is they merely have a $6,000 debt,” said Roberts. 

      Roberts’ bill would create the “Peace Officer Basic Training Tuition Reimbursement Program.”  This would pay back individuals for that training over a period of four years if they find a law enforcement job and retain it for four years. 

      Roberts told the Committee on Crime Prevention his bill aims to make the potential cost of training less of a barrier, particular for two groups of people he hopes to incent toward pursuing law enforcement careers.

      “I’m interested in attracting some of those people who are 27, 28, 29 years old, who have a little life experience, have some idea of what they’re getting into.  Unfortunately many of those people will have mortgages, they’ll be married, have children, and the cost of burdening their family with a $6,000 debt with no guarantee of getting a job certainly would give them pause before they would apply,” said Roberts.

      “Many of the minority categories – people that we have worked very hard to attract – find that $6,000 up-front fee to be an absolute barrier, not just an inhibitor.  This would give them the opportunity to have a law enforcement career.”

      HB 1703 would also require that law enforcement instructors and their curriculum be approved by the Department of Public Safety.  This stemmed from an amendment offered by Representative Kevin Windham (D-Hillsdale) to last year’s version of the legislation.  Windham said it was in answer to something that happened in St. Louis County.

Representative Kevin Windham (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      “We had a police trainer that used some racially-charged language, and as our law stands right now that person would be able to go to any other law enforcement training facility throughout the state.  The amendment to Representative Roberts’ bill will make it where a person that participates in behavior that is less than what we would expect, they won’t be able to bounce around from law enforcement training facility to law enforcement training facility.”

      The bill carries a potential cost to the state of more than $5.5-million. 

      “While I don’t pretend that that’s not a substantial amount of money I would submit to you that at a time when we are having trouble recruiting officers, we’re having trouble finding minority officers, we’re having trouble retaining officers, that (nearly) $6-million is a fairly insignificant amount to be able to correct that in a significant way.”

      Last year’s version the legislation was approved by the House 152-1 but it stalled in the Senate.  HB 1703 has been approved by the Crime Prevention committee and needs one more committee’s action before going to the full House.

House panel advances restitution for all Missouri exonerees

      Anyone exonerated of a crime in Missouri would be eligible for restitution under a plan that has been advanced by a House committee.

Representatives Ron Hicks (left) and Shamed Dogan (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      Missouri law allows anyone freed from prison based on DNA evidence to receive restitution.  House Bills 2412 and 2474 would allow those exonerated by any other proof to receive up to $100 a day, up to $36,500 per fiscal year. 

      The bills are sponsored by Representatives Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) and Ron Hicks (R-Defiance)

      “The bottom line to legislation like this is correcting what we’ve done wrong.  As a society, we put people away.  We’ve incarcerated them for years … and then we release them with nothing,” said Hicks.  “We’re not returning them to the way they were when we incarcerated them.  We’re not making them whole again … and when I mean ‘whole again,’ that’s vaguely used because you’ll never make someone whole again once you’ve taken their life away from them and then you hand it back.”

      Missouri’s restitution statute drew attention following the release late last year of Kevin Strickland, who spent 42 years in prison for a crime of which he was cleared but not by DNA evidence.

      “Under Missouri law he is not eligible for compensation from the state of Missouri, so thankfully he was able to get a lot of national attention to his case.  He had a GoFundMe.  They’ve raised over $1-million to this point.  My belief … is that folks like him … should get compensation from the state because … they were done wrong,” said Dogan.

      Many members expressed support for the proposal, but brought up things they’d like to see added.

      Kansas City Democrat Ashley Aune said she wants to see an addition to the bill to ensure exonerees are provided with assistance upon release, in areas like housing and healthcare.

      “There’s a program now for someone that is released and has committed a crime,” Hicks noted.

      “Exactly,” Aune agreed.  “Missouri cannot be a state that treats its parolees better than its exonerees.  It cannot.”

      Columbia representative David Smith (D) was the only vote against the bill.  He opposed it because it would prohibit exonerees from taking the state to court if they receive restitution under this plan.

      “If you’re in prison for five years, under this plan you can get maybe $180,000 restitution but from a lawsuit provision that could be $1-million, plus.”

      Smith suggested allowing exonerees to sue the state and subtracting any resulting settlement from the amount they receive in restitution.

      Supporters of the bill include the Missouri Chapter of the NAACP, whose president, Nimrod Chapel, enthusiastically said the bill, “may not be perfect, but it is a damn site better than where we have been.”

      Another organization offering support is the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.  Cole County prosecutor Locke Thompson said, “As prosecutors we work with people daily, usually victims of crimes, trying to make them whole after they’ve been victimized.  It seems only right that when something as awful as a wrongful conviction happens and we have an actually innocent person in that we make amends to try and make those individuals whole as well.”

      The bills, which have identical language, would also require that an exoneree automatically receive an order of expungement.

      “I would like to see it go back to the person before they were arrested.  Whatever their record showed at that time is exactly what it should show when … we release them,” said Hicks.

      “This, I believe, this year can be the most single, positive piece of legislation that we push out of this body,” said Hicks.

      The committee voted 13-1 to send HB 2474 to another committee.  From there it could go to the full House.

Committee advances honor for atomic veterans

      U.S. veterans who were part of the military’s nuclear testing programs or the follow-up to the use of nuclear weapons would be honored by a bill moving through the House.

Representative Bob Bromley (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      Representative Bob Bromley (R-Carl Junction) says as many as 400,000 American military personnel were exposed in one way or another to nuclear radiation, but for decades they couldn’t talk about it.

      “This was a very classified operation, and the people involved … had to swear an oath of secrecy.  They would’ve been charged with treason if they would’ve even mentioned this because it was so secretive,” Bromley told the House Veterans Committee.

      Consequently many of these veterans were not compensated for treatments for diseases they developed likely as a result of those nuclear operations.

      “A lot of them had developed illnesses.  I think 23 different types of cancers have been associated with this,” said Bromley. 

      He said it’s perhaps difficult to believe now what these military members were expected to do.

      “They would go in as early as four hours after a nuclear test to go in and observe the result of that bomb and to actually write up reports and just doing research on this.  At that point in time, if you go back through the historical records, a lot of these military personnel, they didn’t wear goggles, they didn’t wear gloves, they didn’t wear respirators,” said Bromley. 

      House Bill 1652 would designate part of Highway 171 the “Atomic Veterans Memorial Highway.”  Bromley said many other states have so honored this group of veterans and its important that Missouri follow suit, especially as so many of them are elderly or have already passed on.

      “It’s just a way to remember these veterans and make the rest of us … understand the sacrifices and all of the contributions that these members made to our society and to the United States of America,” said Bromley. 

      The Veterans committee voted 12-0 to advance the measure.  It must go before one more committee and then could be considered by the full House.

House committee asked to weigh stronger civil asset forfeiture law

      A House committee has been asked to consider closing what’s been called a “loophole” in Missouri law regarding civil asset forfeiture.

Representative Tony Lovasco (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

       Civil asset forfeiture, “allows the government to take your private property without compensation and without the need to convict you or even charge you with a crime,” Representative Tony Lovasco (R-O’Fallon) told the House Committee on General Laws

      “Now you might think that this is a ridiculous process that we wouldn’t allow here in Missouri, and you’d mostly be right,” Lovasco continues, but he says there’s a hitch.  While Missouri law doesn’t allow for civil asset forfeiture without a conviction he said local prosecutors are getting around it through the federal equitable sharing program.

      “This program allows local prosecutors to transfer assets to federal jurisdiction to actually proceed with a case under federal law, which does not have the same due process rights that Missouri’s law affords,” said Lovasco.

      He said the federal program also allows 80-percent of the proceeds stemming from seized assets to go to the law enforcement agencies who seized them, “which creates an unfortunate, perverse incentive to be very, very aggressive at actually filing these cases.”

      Lovasco’s proposal, House Bill 1613, would block Missouri law enforcement and prosecutors from transferring seized property to federal authorities.  It would also stipulate that federal authorities working with authorities in Missouri must give responsibility for seized property to a state entity. 

      The bill would apply to seizures including less than $100,000 in U.S. currency.  Lovasco explained this was a compromise with law enforcement, who told him that most cases involving that amount of money or more are tied to drug trafficking.  He said he doesn’t like this limit but it will make the bill more appealing to some lawmakers.

      The plan has bipartisan appeal including from Peter Merideth (St. Louis), the committee’s top Democrat.  He told Lovasco he strongly agrees with the proposal but he also doesn’t like that $100,000 cap.

      Lovasco said nationwide, the median amount of money that has been seized by authorities is less than $1,300.  In Missouri the number is higher, but he argues that in most cases money has been seized from people who aren’t involved in crime at all.

      He showed his colleagues a blank Uniform Vehicle Stop Report which includes check boxes for listing contraband that is discovered. 

      “Currency is listed as a check box.  We are in a situation where simply traveling throughout the State of Missouri with legal tender could mark you as a target for law enforcement and subject to having your property taken from you without trial.  That is unacceptable.  My bill aims to correct that,” said Lovasco.

      Reverend Darryl Gray of St. Louis told the committee civil asset forfeiture reform is important in the African American communities of the state. 

      “If one of your colleagues is driving down the street going to buy hay with $10,000 in cash and they got pulled over and one of my colleagues is driving down the street in my neighborhood with $10,000 in cash, your friend might go home with $10,000.  Where I live they’re not going home with that $10,000.  That’s another reality, too,” said Gray. 

      “Stopping someone in my community with x-number of dollars, be it $10,000, $5,000, or $1,000, and you take that away based on some suspicion you have and … turns out that no crime has been committed, the effect that has on that person’s family, that is my biggest concern.”

      The only opposition to the bill voiced in the hearing came from St. Charles County.  Lobbying on behalf of the County, Michael Gibbons said the county’s prosecutors and others believe such asset forfeiture is an effective tool in fighting drug trafficking.  He maintains it is done in St. Charles County without abuses described by Lovasco and other backers.

      “We believe that this is a very important tool to combat the kind of crimes that we’re seeing.  We think we do it effectively, we absolutely believe we do it the right way and … there’s been no evidence presented today, anyway, that says that we’re not,” said Gibbons.

The committee has not voted on the legislation.

Committee hears plan to teach social media literacy, evaluating news

      A bill aimed at teaching children how to critically consider today’s constant stream of information and to be safe online has been presented to a House committee.

Representative Jim Murphy (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      St. Louis Republican representative Jim Murphy has proposed House Bill 1585, the “Show-Me Digital Health Act.”  It would instruct the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to create a curriculum on the “responsible use of social media.”

      Murphy said children are exposed to information from numerous sources and mediums, and often legislators discuss how to regulate that information.

      “I don’t care how much you try to regulate it it’s not going away and it’s not going to get better, it’s going to get worse, and if we’re not teaching our children how to process the information that they see – how to question it, how to verify it, how to not internalize it, we’re just going to get worse and worse and worse,” said Murphy.  “This is not about what the content of media is.  It’s about how to process media.”

      The Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education heard from Julie Smith, an instructor at Webster University in St. Louis who has authored books and offered numerous presentations on media literacy and news analysis.  She said “digital citizenship” is the term that’s been used for teaching children how to behave online.  She said Murphy’s bill would expand on the basics of “digital citizenship,” which tends to focus on being “nice” online.

      “Kids have been lectured since day one how to behave online.  They know.  Now we need to help them process this digital world that they live in,” said Smith.  “Digital citizenship already exists in Missouri schools but we need to help that go deeper.  We have to go beyond the ‘be nice online’ and help students examine not only how they use the media but how the media uses them.  This 21st century survival skill, these additional digital citizenship skills will not only increase and enhance their digital health but could potentially help preserve our republic.”

      She said a new curriculum would encourage children to read the terms of service for the websites and apps that they use and educate them about laws governing internet use; how websites and apps are designed to keep them online and make money off of them; how to spot and deal with fake accounts; and how to cope with anxieties and depression related to an online presence.

      The committee’s top Democrat, Paula Brown of Hazelwood, is a retired teacher with 31 years of experience.  She expressed concerns about adding to the already extensive curriculum from which teachers are expected to work.  

      Smith said the school districts with which she has worked have asked how to weave this education into existing curriculum, “So that if you’re a math teacher this is how you can do it, if you’re a science teacher this is how you can do it, so that it’s not an additional class and it doesn’t replace anything.  It merely enhances what already exists.”

      Brown said she would talk further with Smith about that, and would do further research into her concern about what additional cost the bill might create for individual school districts.   

      University of Missouri freshman William Wehmer said he believes as someone who just finished his K-12 education Murphy’s proposal is “much needed.”

      “As I made my way through my education I was faced with the abrupt uprising of social media and was given no tools as to how to handle myself online, what a digital footprint was, and most importantly how to respect others with differing opinions,” said Wehmer.

      The bill’s supporters include the Missouri School Boards Association and the Missouri Broadcasters Association.  Mark Gordon with the Broadcasters Association said its member radio and television stations think the bill would support their work on social media.

      “We’re licensed to serve and as a result of that we produce trusted information and the last thing we want is for people to be confused on a side-by-side issue, where they’re looking at something and they see postings from our members versus those from untrusted sources.”

      The committee has not voted on HB 1585.

Previous story: House proposal aims to teach youth responsible social media use, evaluating constant flow of information

Prison nurseries proposal heard in House committee

      A proposal to put a nursery in Missouri’s prisons has gone in front of a House committee.

Representative Curtis Trent (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      Bills filed by Representatives Bruce DeGroot (R-Ellisville) and Curtis Trent (R-Springfield) would let incarcerated women who meet certain conditions live with infants for up to 18 months. 

      The House Judiciary Committee heard that the program has been used in numerous other states, in some cases for decades.  In those cases it has led to better outcomes for mothers and children and reduced recidivism among mothers.  These and other factors have also saved money for those states. 

      Trent said in New York, more than 74-percent of women who left prison with their infants were still living at home with those children after 3 years, “which I think shows pretty readily that they haven’t [gone back to prison] at that point.  They have maintained those family ties, and you see an improved outcome with all that.”

      “We do want to take care of kids who are in a very precarious situation.  We do want to do everything that we can to seek justice in the correctional system, but also make sure that justice doesn’t work an injustice by breaking a family apart that doesn’t have to be,” said Trent.

He said under the proposal, potential participants in the program would first be screened. 

      “We make sure that the mother will be screened for any kind of mental health problems that might exist and that there is no record of violent conduct or child abuse conduct that has occurred in the past, because the goal is to have better outcomes for children in all cases.”

      The committee heard from Maggie Burke, who was a warden at a prison with a nursery, in Illinois.  She assured the committee that these programs do work, and that Missouri should adopt one.

      “You walk into any [prison], I’ve been in dozens of state facilities, and there is always a facility culture, and what you’ll see in every facility that has babies, you’ll see the culture is just different,” said Burke.  “When you have babies in a facility it kind of lowers everybody’s anxiety.”

      Representatives of the Department of Corrections told the committee that in anticipation of this proposal, they traveled recently to Indiana and viewed a prison nursery program there.  They said they came away with ideas that could be utilized in Missouri, and suggestions for tweaks to the legislation filed by DeGroot and Trent.

Maggie Burke, who was the warden at a prison in Illinois which had a nursery, testifies to the Missouri Judiciary Committee about that program.

      Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman (R-Arnold) thanked the Department for working on this and said she sees it as a continuation of previous legislative efforts. 

      “Briefly I wanted to thank you both very much for your openness to this program and for leading the charge on the anti-shackling [of pregnant women] legislation four years ago,” said Coleman.  “Thank you so much for your willingness to look at this, and thank you for your other work that you’ve been doing on human dignity.”

      Liberty Democrat Mark Ellebracht said, “This is more of a comprehensive approach to taking a pro-life philosophy to folks in Missouri.  It’s pro-mother, it’s pro-infant, it’s pro keeping families together.”

      Lawmakers heard that in other states, prison nurseries are supported largely by donations from private groups, and the same is considered likely to happen in Missouri.  Burke said Illinois’ program was funded without any state dollars.

      The bills propose that the nursery would be regulated by the Department of Corrections, though it could hand some responsibility to the Department of Health and Senior Services. 

      DeGroot wasn’t able to be at the hearing, which focused on his bill.

      The committee has not voted on the legislation.

Proposal would add 17 year-olds to legal definition of ‘missing child’

      The definition of a “missing child” in Missouri law would include 17 year-olds under a proposal heard by a House committee this week.

Representative Bishop Davidson (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      Republic representative Bishop Davidson (R) said he heard from a constituent about a 17 year-old who ran away from home and police could not act to retrieve her.  He said her family felt she was in an unsafe and abusive situation, and noted that they still have responsibility for her care until she turns 18.

      “It’s really a question about at what point are you considered a child and at what point are you considered an adult.  I think if we want to allow for a 9 year-old or a 10 year-old or an 11 year-old, at some point in time that line has to be drawn.  In all of the law we draw that line at 18.  Here we draw it, curiously, at 17,” said Davidson.  “In terms of whether or not a child is considered a child or an adult, I think that there should be consistency across the law.”

      Davidson presented the proposal to the House Committee on Children and Families, the members of which raised some concerns. 

      “If you’re 17 and living in a bad environment at your home … if you leave this would actually give law enforcement people the authority to retrieve you and force you to go back home?” asked Republican Randy Pietzman (Troy)“I’m just thinking of scenarios growing up, people I know that have left home at 16.  They dropped out of school, they left home because it was a bad environment, and 90 percent of those people are pretty well off and doing very well, and I’m just thinking if they’d have been forced to stay there for another year they might not be doing as well as they are.”

      Davidson said it would, but noted there are other systems in place to help a young person in such a situation.

      “Now would I want an officer or someone close to the family, I mean if the child is running away at 17 could that be a pause for concern?  Could that stir up some questions that go, ‘Hey, did they run away for any particular reason that maybe we should look into?’  Sure, that’s a whole other conversation,” said Davidson, who added that he appreciated Pietzman’s reservation. 

      Several committee members thanked Davidson for opening the discussion.  Shrewsbury Democrat Sarah Unsicker recently read about a 17 year-old who was dropped from the foster care system but was not emancipated, so among other things she could not enter into a contract such as a lease to find housing.   

      “The report I got from the government says law enforcement refused to file a missing persons report or issue a pickup order due to the child’s age … so I think it’s really important that law enforcement know that they need to look for missing kids when they’re 17 years old,” said Unsicker. 

      Representative Marlene Terry (D-St. Louis) asked Davidson about expanding his bill to specify that law enforcement search for such individuals, and what must be done in that search.

Representative Marlene Terry asks Rep. Bishop Davidson about his bill, as Representatives Hannah Kelly (light blazer) and Mary Elizabeth Coleman, Chair of the House Committee on Children and Families, listen. (Photo: Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

      “What I’m finding is that there are not procedures in place that make it manadatory to actually search for individuals that are missing.  A lot of times they’ll put up pictures and it’s a blank picture and not a photo.  All those things are important.  Even with the age, makes a difference, there’s other things that make a difference that might be helpful to make the search more valuable,” said Terry.

      “I come to this with a very open mind,” Davidson told Terry.  “This is not an issue that I have been most closely involved in and so I’m excited to see where the conversations go.”

      Mountain Grove Republican Hannah Kelly said in her experience, much frustration for caseworkers comes from directives being handed down without understanding of what would be necessary for them to be met. 

      “I would just ask to be able to have a continuing part in that conversation with you about what the ultimate structure looks like … what does it take to go do this,” said Kelly. 

      “I hope that this piece of legislation won’t leave this committee just in the form that it’s in now,” said Davidson.   

      His bill, House Bill 1559, is scheduled for a second hearing by the committee on Wednesday, and it could be voted on and/or amended at that time.