It was another busy week at the Capitol. Bills are now moving rapidly from Committees to the House floor. One of the bills I filed (HB 1428) was heard this week and approved during 2nd Reading without opposition. This bill would allow the commissioners of any non-charter county to temporarily appoint a qualified person to a vacated elected county office that does not, by law, have an existing process to fill that office, until the Governor makes the appointment. This bill made it through the House last year, and to the Senate, but was not heard. This legislation would
help prevent a vacated county office from being closed, like the Cooper County Collector’s office was in 2015.
Several other Bills that passed out of the House and headed to the Senate are: Lawmakers Pass Bill to Legalize Industrial Hemp (HB 2034)
The Missouri House has approved a bill that would legalize the growing of industrial hemp in Missouri. Supporters say the bill would help to promote industrial hemp as an agricultural commodity in Missouri, which was one of the largest producers of industrial hemp in the nation before it became illegal. Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant with a low concentration of THC, which is the psychoactive component found in marijuana. It can be used in a wide range of products, including fibers, textiles, paper, construction and insulation materials, cosmetic products, animal feed, food, and beverages. It is used in more than
25,000 products spanning nine markets: agriculture, textiles, recycling, automotive, furniture, food/nutrition/beverages, paper, construction materials and personal care. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, at least 34 states have passed legislation related to industrial hemp. The bill approved this week would exempt industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana and the list of controlled substances. It would also allow an individual who has received an industrial hemp license to grow, harvest, cultivate, and process industrial hemp. The bill would establish a pilot program under the Department of Agriculture to implement the licensing standards and requirements. In addition, the bill would require every grower or handler to be subject to an industrial hemp monitoring system to ensure compliance with state law and department rules.
Supporters say industrial hemp is used in many goods manufactured in Missouri, but manufacturers must import the hemp from other states and countries. They say the bill could be a boon for farmers, and bring new business to the state. Supporters also point to studies that show farmers who add industrial hemp to their crop rotation may have higher yields. Proponents say the bill is in no way related to attempts to legalize marijuana, and point out that the THC levels in industrial hemp are lower than the level to be classified as a narcotic. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Approves Legislation to Help First-Time Home Buyers (HB 1796)
House members gave approval this week to legislation that would make it easier for Missourians to save money to buy their first home. The bill would establish the First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account Act and authorize a tax deduction for contributions to a savings account dedicated to buying a first home. The bill would authorize an individual income tax deduction for 50 percent of the contributions to the account. It would have an annual contribution deduction limit of $1,600 per taxpayer. The bill specifics the maximum contribution limit for all tax years would be $20,000 and the maximum total amount in the savings account would be $30,000. The bill would define a first-time home buyer as an individual who has never owned a single-family, owner-occupied primary residence including a condominium or manufactured home, or a divorced individual who has not been listed on a property title for at least three years.
Supporters of the bill say many individuals and families have a difficult time saving sufficient funds for a down payment on a first home. They say the bill would make it easier for Missourians to save money so they can achieve the dream of home ownership.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration. If passed into law, the act would go into effect January 1, 2019.
Raising the Marriage Age to Protect Young People (HB 1630)
As part of their effort to fight human trafficking in Missouri, lawmakers this week approved legislation that would prohibit marriages for children under the age of 15, and raise the minimum age for marriage with parental consent to 17.
Missouri currently has a minimum age of 18 to obtain a marriage license without parental consent. Young people age 15 to 17 can receive a license with parental consent. Individuals of any age also have the option to get married without consent if they successfully petition the court to obtain a license. The legislation approved by the House would raise the age requirement to 17. Young people under the age of 17 who want to be married would need to obtain a court order that verifies the marriage is advisable and there is no evidence of coercion or abuse of either party entering the marriage. The bill also would strictly prohibit any marriage where either party is under the age of 15, and would ensure no marriage license is issued to any person 21 years of age or older if the other party to the marriage is less than 17 years of age. Supporters say the bill would bring Missouri’s marriage law in alignment with its statutory rape law that says a person over 21 cannot have sex with a person under 17. They say the goal of the bill is to prevent child marriages that are used to disguise abusive situations and human trafficking. They note that Virginia raised its minimum age requirement after seeing a large number of underage girls marry men who were far older. According to one study, more than 7,300 teens under the age of 18 were married in Missouri from 2000 to 2014.
The bill now heads to the Senate for debate.
House Members to Honor Missouri’s Vietnam Veterans
In anticipation of the state’s annual Vietnam Veterans Day on March 29, House members are encouraging veterans throughout the state to come forward to receive recognition for their service. As part of the annual celebration, Vietnam veterans will be honored at the State Capitol in the House Chamber by the Speaker of the House and the members of the House of Representatives. Each veteran will also receive an official House Resolution in honor of the service they provided to the nation. Vietnam Veterans Day was created by the General Assembly with the passage of HB 1128 in 2012. The day, which is scheduled for March 29, is meant to recognize the courage and patriotism of those who served during the Vietnam Conflict. During the day, Missourians are encouraged to hold events, activities, and remembrances in honor of the
veterans who bravely fought, served, and sacrificed during the Vietnam Conflict and returned home to no parades, ceremonies, or public celebrations to welcome them in gratitude for their courageous service given and sacrifices made on behalf of our nation. You can view all bills by logging on to house.mo.gov and click on Legislation. You can search by bill number/keyword.
I plan to file for re-election of state representative for the 48th district on Tuesday, Feb. 27. This will be my fourth and final two-year term due to term limits. It is an honor to serve the constituents in the 48th House District.
As always, if we can ever be of any assistance to you at your State Capitol or you ever have questions, concerns or input, do not hesitate to contact us at 573-751-0169 or you can reach my assistant, June, at email@example.com. If your plans bring you to Jefferson City at any time during the year, please feel free to visit my Capitol office room 235B. I continue to pray daily for the Lord’s guidance in making decisions as your State Representative. Please pray for me, the Legislative Body, and pray to preserve our freedoms.