Several bills are now on their way to the Senate after another busy legislative week at the Capitol. This week, the House approved a bill that would provide young people with greater access to highly-skilled, experienced instructors in areas such as health care, manufacturing, and engineering. The legislation, which also received House approval last session, would allow the State Board of Education to issue a visiting scholar certificate as a license to teach in public schools. The House also approved legislation this week that is designed to deter those who engage in what is commonly referred to as paper terrorism. The legislation would make it a crime to file false documents such as fraudulent liens or quitclaim deeds. More on these and other bills below.
Also, this week, I had a hearing on one of my bills, HCR 53, which urges Congress to award the Congressional Gold Medal to the Ghost Army from WWII. Roy Eichhorn flew from Virginia to testify and provide a presentation on the bill. Roy is a board member of the Ghost Army Legacy Project, a non-profit devoted to honoring and preserving the legacy of the unit. He spent 30 years as a civilian employee for DOD and has spent over 20 years studying and researching Army deception. The committee presentation went very well and the bill is scheduled to be voted out of committee next week. Thank you to the Veterans Committee Chairman Charlie Davis for helping present the bill (I caught some of that bug floating around and missed the first part of the week) and to Roy for taking the time to travel to Missouri! More on the Ghost Army can be found at: http://www.ghostarmy.org/
House Works to Enhance Real World Learning Opportunities for Young People (HB 1665)
Lawmakers approved a bill this week that would provide young people with greater access to highly-skilled, experienced instructors in areas such as health care, manufacturing, and engineering. The legislation would allow the State Board of Education to issue a visiting scholar certificate as a license to teach in public schools.
The visiting scholar certificate provides that a professional may be employed in a content area in which the individual has an academic degree or professional experience. The visiting scholar would only teach classes for ninth grade or higher and the hiring school district must verify that the individual will be employed as part of a business-education partnership initiative designed to build career pathways for students. The certificate would last for one year and the applicant could renew it a maximum of two times if certain requirements are met.
Fighting Paper Terrorism (HB 1769)
The House approved legislation this week designed to deter those who engage in what is commonly referred to as paper terrorism. The legislation would make it a crime to file false documents such as fraudulent liens or quitclaim deeds. The sponsor of the bill noted there are instances where criminals have filed false claims against their arresting officer or a judge. Paper terrorism can also result from instances such as a boundary dispute between neighbors. The fraudulent liens filed by one party in an act of retaliation can then lower an individual’s credit rating and force the person to pay expensive legal filings.
The problem is currently only addressed in the Uniform Commercial Code, and not the state’s criminal code. The bill passed this week would make the offense of filing a false document a class D felony, and include an enhanced penalty for false documents filed against elected officials, law enforcement officers, and other specified individuals. The bill also would create a process to help identify these crimes and prosecute them. Supporters note that other states and the federal government have enacted similar laws to combat paper terrorism.
Simplifying Missouri’s Bingo Laws (HB 1484 and HJR 59)
The House approved both a bill and a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove some of the unnecessary regulations that currently exist for bingo games in Missouri. The changes are meant to ease the burden for charitable organizations that use bingo games to raise funds.
The Missouri Constitution currently requires a member of an organization licensed to conduct bingo to be part of the organization for at least two years before being able to participate in the operation of a bingo game. The legislation approved by the House would change Missouri law to reduce the requirement to six months of membership. The change would also need to be made in the Missouri Constitution, which would require voter approval. The measures approved by the House would also remove the statutory restrictions on the advertisement of bingo.
If both pieces of legislation make it through the legislative process and the constitutional change is approved by voters, charitable organizations would then have a larger pool of members eligible to assist with running bingo games. The change would take pressure off of older members who are the only ones qualified to run games under current law, and would allow newer, more active members to participate in their operation.
Other Bills Moving to the Senate
HB 1617 would update Missouri’s telehealth laws. Supporters say the bill would allow health care providers to be reimbursed for telehealth services from MO HealthNet, just as they are reimbursed in the private sector. The bill would make telehealth more accessible and will help patients receive better care.
HB 1504 would require certain counties to adopt ordinances regulating land use around National Guard training centers. The bill is intended as a proactive measure to protect the National Guard Training Center in Newton County from encroachment by development.
HB 1408 would change the Missouri Virtual Instruction Program (MOVIP) to "The Missouri Course Access Program" (MCAP). The bill would give students the opportunity to take courses that their school does not offer, especially in the case of small schools unable to hire teachers for advanced or specialized subject areas.
Earlier this week, Roy Eichhorn flew from Virginia to testify and provide a presentation on my HCR 53, which urges Congress to award the Congressional Medal to the Ghost Army from WWII. Roy is a board member of the Ghost Army Legacy Project, a non-profit devoted to honoring and preserving the legacy of the unit. He spent 30 years as a civilian employee for DOD and has spent over 20 years studying and researching Army deception.
It is an honor to serve the 51st District in the Missouri House of Representatives. Each week I will issue a capitol report to keep you informed of activities in Jefferson City. Any concerns or issues you might have are of great interest to me. I look forward to your input and thoughts, so please feel free to contact me at any time if you have questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for all Missourians. My telephone number is 573-751-2204 or you may contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for working with me to make Missouri a great place to live.