Several more bills are now on their way to he Senate after yet another busy legislative week at the Capitol.
This week, the House approved a bill that would allow a teacher to count hours spent in a local business externship as contact hours of professional development and a bill that would require every school district and charter school to maintain an accountability portal for the public. Other bills passed out of the House inclued a peice of legislation that would modify the laws regarding background check requirements of in-home service provider and home health agencies to lessen the burden of red tape and minor obstacle violations and a bill that would modify the A+ Schools Program by removing the requirement that the student's attendance of public high school occur in the three years immediately prior to graduation. In effect, removing a technical requirement that prevents some students from being eligible for A+ benefits. More on these and other bills below.
Also, this week, I had one of my bills, HB 1528, voted out of he Higher Education Committee. The bill states that students at public institutions of higher education should demonstrate proficiency in the provisions and principles of American civics as a condition of graduation. The bill is now in the Rules Committee and, hopefully, in the coming days be brought up on the House floor for consideration. In addition I had a hearing on my HB 1942, which allows institutions of higher education to designate one or more faculty or staff members as campus protection officers. The hearing went well and the bill will hopefully be voted out of committee soon.
House Gives First-Round Approval to "Paycheck Protection" Legislation ( HB 1413)
The Missouri House of Representatives gave preliminary approval this week to legislation that is meant to hold unions accountable for its members. Commonly referred to as "paycheck protection," the bill would also allow public employee union members to ensure their dues aren't used for political purposes they do not support.
In effect, the bill would give public employee union members the right to opt-in annually to have their dues automatically deducted from their paychecks. The current system requires a public employee to opt-out, and if they fail to do so their dues are automatically deducted. The bill would change current law to require annual written consent from a public employee before any amount could be withheld from the employee's earnings for the payment of any portion of dues, agency shop fees, or other fees paid to a public labor organization. The legislation also would require public employee unions to obtain annual written consent to spend a portion of the fees on political activities.
In addition, the bill is designed to increase transparency by requiring public labor organizations to maintain financial records identical to hose required by federal law. The reports must be made available to employees in a searchable electronic format. Some say the bill increases transparency within public sector union members who may disagree with union leadership, and may accordingly wish to not have their dues or membership pay for the union's political activities.
The bill now requires one more vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration.
House Approves Change to Abortion Parental Notification Law (HB 1383)
The Missouri Hose gave initial approval to legislation that would require that both parents be notified before a minor in Missouri can have an abortion
Current Missouri law requires that a minor seeking an abortion, one parent or guardian give written consent before the procedure is performed. House Bill 1383 would require that the parent or guardian giving consent notify any other custodial parent or guardian in writing before the minor gives her consent. The bill contain exceptions for an emergency, or for custodial parents or guardians who have been found guilty of certain crimes, are listed on the sex offender registry, are the subject of an order of protection, have had parental rights terminated, or cannot be located.
Some say the bill is a common sense measure. They say a custodial parent is notified of every major medical action taken on their minor child with the exception of an abortion procedure. The goal of the bill is to make all parents aware of the medical procedures being performed on their minor children. They note it contains protections so that a parent who is a bad actor does not need to be notified. The bill is meant to start a discussion and protect the young person who is making a life-altering decision.
The House has approved similar bills in each of the last two sessions, but the bills did not receive final approval in the Senate. This year's bull requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration.
Bills Moving to the Senate
HB 1415 would allow a teacher to count hours spent in an local business externship as contact hours of professional development. Supporters say the bill is meant to encourage teachers to engage in learning experiences with business in the community and bring real world skills back into the classroom. The bill would also provide students the opportunity to choose between the ACT WorkKeys assessment or ACT (including ACT Plus Writing) assessment. The ACT WorkKeys indicates that a student s career ready and provides an option for students that may seek vocational training rather than college.
HB 1370 would require every school district and charter schools to maintain an accountability portal for the public. Supporters say the bill will help citizens look up basic financial information on their school district and enable them to ask questions at board meetings or gain additional information from the department.
HB 1350 would modify the laws regarding background check requirements of in-home service providers and home health agencies. The bill will increase the number of people who can work as an in-home service provider or personal care attendant and relieve burdensome paperwork requirements on the department because 75 percent of applicants are eventually given good cause waivers. This bill would stop applicants from being flagged for minor violations, like littering or writing bad checks, which also may have occurred several years ago.
HB 1446 would expand the existing exception for small cities, towns, and villages that allow candidates for election to assume office without holding an election if a particular election is uncontested and the number of candidates available equal the number of open positions. The exception currently applies to cities, towns, or villages with 1,000 or less persons, and the bill would expand it to apply to those with 2,000 or less persons. Supporters say that the bill will help save money in approximately 44 percent of instances while not changing any electoral results.
HB 1411 would prohibit a peer support specialist from disclosing any confidential communication properly entrusted to the counselor by law enforcement and emergency personnel while receiving counseling. Supporters say the program is already in effect but there is little participation because it is not confidential. This is a very important program because officers need someone to talk to. More officers killed themselves last year than were killed in the line of duty. This legislation is not only about preventing suicide, but it is also about making sure we have officers who are healthy for service.
HB 1605 would expand the duties of the Missouri State Capitol Commission. It would grant the commission the authority to supervise and coordinate activities in the Capitol building, gournds, and annex areas including evaluating and making recommendations involving the 21st Century State Capitol Restoration Project. Supporters say the bill may help increase the presence of experts on the arts, history, and civil engineering on the commission and achieve a bipartisan devotion to ensuring the integrity and historical preservation of the Capitol building and its grounds.
HB 1744 would modify the A+ Schools Program by removing the requirement that the student's attendance of public high school occur in the three years immediately prior to graduation. Supporters say the bill removes a technical requirement that should not prevent students from being eligible for A+ benefits.
HB 1880 declares the expansion of broadband services to be within the best interests of the citizens of Missouri and a public purpose. In furtherance of expanding broadband throughout Missouri, the bill states the intent of the General Assembly to encourage agreements between various parties and rural electric cooperatives to expand rural broadband services. Supporters say the availability of Internet services is essential to Missourian's daily lives, especially for individuals living in rural communities. For the aging population in particular, access to broadband is necessary for telehealth and communication.
HB 1492 would extend eligibility in the Show-Me Heroes Program to five years from discharge of deployment. Currently, the spouses of active duty National Guard or reservists and active duty military personnel, and returning National Guard troops and reservists can participate in the Department of Economic Development's Show-Me Heroes Program for one year following discharge of deployment. Supporters say that for various reasons many returning military personnel are not ready to look for employment in the first year. The bill would allow them extra time to participate in the program.
HB 1286 would modify provisions of law relating to the detonation of explosives and actions for private nuisances brought against certain permittees. Supporters say that this increase is necessary and supported by those in the industry that would be required to pay it.
FFA State Officer Team Visits State Capitol
In what has become an annual tradition for lawmakers, the members of the FFA State Officer Team visited the State Capitol building his week to talk about the importance of agricultural education in Missouri. The group made the trip to Jefferson City in conjunction with Career and Technical Education Month to present the more than 25,900 students around the state who participate in FFA. Their visit was highlighted by a speech made in the House Chamber by FFA President Abby Bertz. Bertz discussed the organization's origins in Kansas City, and focused her comments on the importance of preparing the next generation of leaders. FFA prepares the next generation to meet the challenges of feeding a growing population by helping its members to develop their own unique talens and explore their interests in a broad range of career pathways through their experiences in agricultural education.
Earlier this week, the FFA State Officer Team visited the State Capitol building his week to talk about the importance of agricultural education in Missouri. Their visit was highlighted by a speech made in the House Chamber by FFA President Abby Bertz (on right). I especially enjoyed visiting with FFA job shadow Sydnee Mason, of Marshall (on left), who is the Missouri State FFA Secretary.
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.