My family enjoyed a great weekend of good weather, family gatherings, and the meaning of Easter. It was a short week at the Capitol but we did get many things accomplished. The following bills moved to the Senate for consideration.
House Approves Legislation to Protect Victims from Their Abusers (HB 744)
The members of the Missouri House gave strong bipartisan support to legislation that would allow victims of abuse to obtain lifetime orders of protection against extreme, obsessive abusers. The bill’s sponsor said the legislation “would end the necessity for victims to have to return to court every year to get a new protection order, and incurring the associated costs, as well as having to face their abuser again in court.”
Missouri law currently allows for orders of protection that last for one year. The legislation approved by the House would give a judge the option to grant a lifetime protection order against those who are obsessive and will not stop threatening their victims. The length of time the order of protection is issued or renewed would depend on whether the court makes specific findings during an evidentiary hearing that the respondent poses a serious danger to the physical or mental health of the petitioner or of a minor household member of the petitioner.
HB 306 requires school districts and charter schools to establish a state-approved gifted program if 3 percent or more of the students are determined to be gifted by July 1, 2023. By July 1, 2023, districts and charter schools with average daily attendance of more than 350 students are required to have a teacher certificated to teach gifted education. In districts with an average daily attendance of 350 or less any teacher providing gifted instruction shall not be required to be certified to teach gifted education but must participate in six hours per year of professional development, paid for by the school district, regarding gifted services. Missouri is one of very few states that do not require education for those on the higher end of the special needs spectrum.
HB 678 provides that in absence of a local agreement otherwise, in any courthouse that contains both county offices and court facilities, the presiding judge of the circuit may establish rules and procedures for court facilities and areas necessary for court-related ingress and egress, and other reasonable court-related usage, but the county commission will have authority over all other areas of the courthouse.
HB 299 adds a rebuttable presumption when determining child custody arrangements that an award of equal or approximately equal parenting time to each parent is in the best interests of the child. This presumption may be rebutted as specified in the bill, including with an agreement by the parents on all issues related to custody, or a finding by the court that a pattern of domestic violence or abuse of the child has occurred. The General Assembly urges the court to enter a temporary parenting plan as soon as practicable in a manner that will best assure both parents participate in custody decisions and have frequent, continuing, and meaningful contact with their children. Supporters say the bill modifies provisions related to child custody orders to make sure a child has meaningful time with both parents. Right now, there is a bias that presumes the mother is better for the interests of the child.
HB 1242 specifies that if a person was considered an adult when the alleged offense or violation was committed, he or she will not later be considered a child. Additionally, under current law, no court will require a child to remain in the custody of the Division of Youth Services past the child's 18th birthday. This bill changes that provision so that a child can remain in the custody of the Division of Youth Services until the child's 19th birthday.
HB 391 provides that members of the Missouri National Guard will be considered state employees for the purpose of operating state-owned vehicles for official state business, unless such members are called into active federal military service.
HB 252 authorizes certain cities, upon voter approval, to impose a transient guest tax not to exceed 6 percent per occupied room per night, for general purposes.
HB 661 disqualifies any person from driving a commercial motor vehicle for life if they are convicted of using a commercial motor vehicle in the commission of a felony involving severe forms of human trafficking
HB 60 creates a Department of Defense and transfers the powers, duties, and functions vested in the Office of Adjutant General, the state militia, and the Office of the State Judge Advocate from the Department of Public Safety beginning December 31, 2021. The bill has an effective date contingent upon the passage and approval by the voters of HJR 6. Supporters say 28 other states have a similar Department of Defense and the bill will provide a proper chain of command without a "middle man". The adjutant general will directly answer to the governor and then may command the proper support staff. This bill will allow leadership to speed up critical decision making and if military construction projects arise provide opportunities to take advantage of those without going through a variety of other departments.
HJR 6 is a proposed Constitutional amendment that would, upon voter approval, establish a Department of Defense under the charge of the Adjutant General appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, charged with providing the state militia and other defense and security mechanisms as may be required.
To view all bills/legislation go to house.mo.gov and click on Legislation.
It is my honor to serve the constituents of District 48. If you ever have questions, concerns, or input, please feel free to contact me at any time at 573-751-0169 or you can reach my Legislator Assistant, June, at June.Cardwell@house.mo.gov.