July 30, 2014

Legislature proposes measures to make mental health workers safer (VIDEO)

The state legislature has approved bills meant to protect staff at the state’s maximum security mental hospital and staff and patients at its treatment facilities for violent sexual offenders.

Representatives Jeanie Riddle (left) and Linda Black (right).

Representatives Jeanie Riddle (left) and Linda Black (right).

One proposal, HB 1779, will allow advance practice registered nurses at Fulton State Hospital order that physical or chemical restraints, isolation or seclusion be used on a patient as long as that nurse collaborates with an attending licensed physician. Currently only such physicians or the head of the facility can order such measures.

Representative Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) says the bill would make working at the Fulton hospital safer.

“[Those nurses] are closer,” says Riddle. “Fulton State Hospital is a number of buildings and the physician or [Chief of Operations] may be in another building when a violent situation arises. This will allow an advanced practice nurse to be able to de-escalate that situation and hopefully eliminate or lessen the injury rate that’s going on.”

Riddle says staff at the Fulton Hospital are not allowed to defend themselves if attacked by patients who are sometimes violently mentally ill. She is looking for more ways to change policy regarding that.

“I intend to work with the Department [of Mental Health],” says Riddle, “what are the things that we can do that de-escalate violent situations and how do we maintain quality employees and not lose them because they got injured?”

Language from a bill sponsored by Representative Linda Black (D-Desloge) and added to SB 852 would make it a Class “B” felony for a sexually violent predator committed to the Department of Mental Health to attack a Department employee or another offender at the Sexual Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services (SORTS) facilities at Fulton or Farmington. The same language would also make it a class “C” felony for offenders at SORTS to knowingly damage state property. Black says the language brings punishment for such incidents in line with what happens when inmates at the state’s prisons attack guards or other inmates.

Representative Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) supported that language. He says offenders consider going from a SORTS facility to a prison, “Much worse conditions most people, so it’s a deterrent to keep them from destroying property, from acting out or hurting employees.”

Both proposals await action by Governor Jay Nixon (D).

Medicaid expansion dies its final death (AUDIO)

 One last shot at getting Medicaid expansion in this year’s legislative session has ended the way all of them have ended—with a filibuster or a threatened filibuster.

Kansas City Senator Ryan Silvey tried to make it part of a reform of entitlement programs such as Food Stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Famiklies.

Silvey’s last proposal would have taken Missouri out of the expansion program if the federal government ever welched on its agreement to pay at least 90 percent of the costs forever.

But Silvey abandoned his bill when St. Joseph Senator Rob Schaaf threatened to lead another filibuster.  Silvey told colleagues another filibuster would eliminate debate time needed by other  senators pushing their own bills in the last two days of the session.  He has withdrawn his bill from debate.

audio: DEBATE pt. 1 27:44

AUDIIO: Debate pt. 2 25:50

Lawmakers consider non-certified drugs for terminally ill (AUDIO)

State lawmakers are trying to put the finishing touches on a new law that could restore a flicker of hope for terminally-ill Missourians.

House and Senate negotiators want to let terminally-ill cancer patients get prescriptions for drugs that are still going through FDA investigational trials. The bill would let pharmacists fill those prescriptions although the medicine has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. “This bill would really help a lot of people who have no hope otherwise,” says St. Joseph Senator Rob Schaaf, a medical doctor.

Schaaf has added people with irreversible debilitating disease to those who could take part in the program.

The bill is intended to help people who are not part of the clinical trials get the medications being tested at a time when they have nothing to lose.

Lawmakers have until Friday evening to work out their differences.

AUDIO: debate 10:18

Senate sends abortion waiting period bill back to House (AUDIO)

The state Senate has voted to triple the amount of time a woman wanting an abortion has to wait to get one, increasing the waiting period to 72 hours from the presently-mandated 24. . 

The bill that has cleared the House once has been sent back with some Senate changes.

Democrats filibustering the bill forced majority Republicans to use the unusual tactic of bringing up the bill  at 9:30 p.m.  Democrats didn’t give up until after midnight. 

St. Louis Republican Senator John Lamping hopes the extra 48 hours will convince more women not to abort a fetus.  He says society has extended the time it considers executing criminals; it’s natural that the state require a pregnant woman to take more time to consider the death of an unborn child.

Democrats say the bill will be ruled unconstitutional by the courts, eventually. 

 To get a vote on the abortion bill and on the early voting bill early this morning, Republicans agreed with Democrat demands that they drop two other priority bills—voter photo-ID, and the bill limiting the way public employee unions can get dues money from employees.

AUDIO: closing debate 9:06

(Senators Sifton, Levota, Lamping, Sater)

Legislature passes parental consent to tan legislation

The Missouri General Assembly has approved requiring parental consent for anyone under the age of 17 to use tanning beds.

Representative Gary Cross (R-Lee's Summit) has worked for four sessions to pass legislation restricting the use of tanning beds by minors. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Representative Gary Cross (R-Lee’s Summit) has worked for four sessions to pass legislation restricting the use of tanning beds by minors. (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The proposal would penalize businesses that let customers under 17 use tanning beds without annual, written parental or guardian consent. It establishes a tiered system of up to $500 fines for first, second and additional offenses.

Backers like Representative Sharon Pace (D-St. Louis) say the bill helps protect young people from skin cancer.

“We do need protections, especially for children … younger generations,” says Pace.

Representative Keith Frederick (R-Rolla) says parents need to be paying attention to what their children are doing with their bodies.

“This [bill] allows parents to have some voice over whether their children expose themselves to carcinogens,” says Frederick.

The proposal, HB 1411, has been sent to Governor Jay Nixon (D).