August 29, 2015

Missouri Highway Patrol investigating crash that killed trooper Friday morning

A Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper has been killed in an accident west of Mexico.

Missouri_Highway_PatrolTrooper James M. Bava, 25, died in the crash of his patrol car this morning on a county road. At 8:29 a.m. he was pursuing a motorcyclist that he had seen commit a traffic violation, according to Corporal Scott White.

“A few minutes later communication operators at Troop F headquarters in Jefferson City attempted to contact him by radio and did not receive a response. At 8:35 Troop F received a report of a Missouri State Highway Patrol vehicle crashed on Route FF. Emergency responders arrived on the scene and confirmed Trooper Bava had been killed in the crash.”

The patrol isn’t sure how the crash happened but is calling it a one-vehicle accident. Trooper Bava’s patrol car was equipped with a dash cam but the patrol said it doesn’t know yet if the video survived the crash.

Trooper Bava had been with the patrol since July, 2013. He is survived by his parents, two sisters, a brother, and a half-sister. He is from the St. Louis area.

Governor Jay Nixon has ordered that all flags at Patrol facilities be lowered to half-staff to honor Trooper Bava.

In a statement, Nixon said, “The death of Trooper Bava is a reminder of the dangers that the members of Missouri’s law enforcement community face each time they put on their uniforms, and how they willingly put themselves in harm’s way. We join his family, friends, and colleagues in mourning his death, and the flags at half-staff will honor Trooper Bava’s service and sacrifice.”

The Patrol says the investigation into the crash will continue through the weekend.

Several new Missouri laws take effect today

Dozens of new state laws take effect today, dealing with health, protecting seniors and victims of sex crimes, municipal courts, education, and more.

Governor Jay Nixon says events in the State Capitol should not include the selling of alcohol.  (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The Missouri State Capitol (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

One that received particular attention during the legislative session is the municipal courts reform bill, SB 5, prompted in part by the fatal shooting of Michael Brown, Junior in Ferguson just more than a year ago. Proponents of change said municipal courts particularly in the St. Louis region were collecting too much in traffic tickets and fines and adding to social injustice in the region. The new law lowers the limit on how much of a city’s annual revenue can come from those sources and also sets minimum standards for courts and additional standards for municipal governments and law enforcement in St. Louis County.

Missouri Governor signs municipal court reform bill with ‘real teeth’

Washington University professor wants Missouri juvenile court reforms

Another bill becoming law today requires Missouri public and charter schools who teach sexual education to include information about sexting, sexual predators, and online predators.

Proponents hope the change will protect children by teaching them to recognize and respond to dangers, but critics didn’t like that broader legislation to reform sex education in Missouri wasn’t given consideration.

Missouri sex education to now include info on predators and sexting

After years of work by multiple lawmakers, Missouri law will now specify what mental health needs insurance companies must cover related to eating disorders. State law has already required that companies cover treatment for mental health issues including eating disorders, but a lack of specificity meant patients’ claims were often denied. That left those patients’ treatment plans in jeopardy after they met body weight or other targets, and it fell to families to pick up the cost of the mental health care needed to prevent a relapse.

The bill becomes law today but it gives insurance companies until January 1, 2017 to implement the changes. Advocates say the law puts Missouri ahead of other states in dealing with this issue.

Missouri bill to better cover eating disorder treatment becomes law

Advocates speak about importance of bill to treat eating disorders

Victims of sexual assault in Missouri can now seek orders of protection from their attackers. Advocates told Missourinet such orders, created in 1980, have never been available to rape or sexual assault victims; only to victims of domestic violence and stalking.

Under the same bill, the state can now intervene when children are being sexually abused by other children. State law previously allowed the Children’s Division to investigate cases of abuse involving an alleged perpetrator with care, custody, or control of the victim.

The legislation also requires licensed care centers in Missouri to have sleep policies based on the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Missouri Governor signs bills dealing with child sexual assault, protection orders for sexual assault victims

Bill to help adult and child sexual abuse victims goes to Missouri governor

Bills would allow orders of protection for Missouri rape victims

Lawmakers told of ‘gap’ in Missouri law on kids abusing kids

Another bill that becomes law today, but for which largely becomes effective January 1, 2016, reduces the length of time a person can spend on the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Governor Jay Nixon vetoed that bill but the Republican-led legislature voted to overturn that veto before the session ended.

Legislation that aims to protect seniors from financial exploitation also becomes law today. Missouri is one of few states in the nation to enact something like the Senior Savings Protection Act. It allows financial agents to put a 10-day hold on transactions they believe could be attempts at exploitation of a person 60 or older or with a disability. During that hold the broker-dealer must contact state investigators and can reach out to the person’s family or guardians.

The bill had bipartisan support, including from Secretary of State Jason Kander.

Measure meant to protect seniors’ savings becomes Missouri law

Proposals target fraud against Missouri seniors and disabled

Some of the other bills becoming law today create an advocate for the military in Missouri, create a margin insurance subsidy for the state’s dairy farmers, and require that liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes be in child-safe packaging.

Federal court blocks implementation of clean water rule, granting injunction in Missouri and 12 other states

A federal judge has blocked implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s clean water rule, scheduled to happen tomorrow.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster calls the Second Injury Fund situation an "Illinois-level" issue.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster

Attorney General Chris Koster’s office said the U.S. District Court of North Dakota found Missouri and 12 other states are “likely to succeed on the merits” of their underlying lawsuit against the law.

The EPA and the opponents of the rule argue what land it would encompass. Koster argues it would include dry creek beds and farms in 100-year flood plains.

Judge Ralph Erickson wrote, “While the exact amount of land that would be subject to the increase is hotly disputed, the agencies admit to an increase in control over those traditional state-regulated waters of between 2.84 to 4.65 percent. Immediately upon the rule taking effect, the rule will irreparably diminish the states’ power over their waters.”

EPA has responded to the ruling saying it only applies to the 13 states that filed for it, including Missouri. It plans to enforce the rule in the rest of the nation beginning tomorrow.

The preliminary injunction only lasts as long as the litigation continues, and can be overturned.

Planned Parenthood releases report saying videos were edited, Missouri Senator says investigation will continue

Planned Parenthood has released a report from an analysis it commissioned of fi of the videos that have been released by an anti-abortion group alleging it has illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue.

Planned ParenthoodThe Missouri Senator chairing his chamber’s committee investigating the organization says that inquiry won’t be halted because of the findings.

Planned Parenthood hired Washington-based Fusion GPS, co-founded by former Wall Street Journal investigative reporter Glenn Simpson, to study the first five undercover videos recorded by two activists posing as representatives of a firm interested in buying tissue for researchers and universities.

The group found evidence that the purportedly full versions of those videos had been manipulated.

“The full footage [Center for Medical Progress] tapes were in fact missing large sections which, we can’t tell you why they’re missing large sections, we can only tell you that they are missing large sections,” said Simpson.

“Any time someone has made undisclosed changes to an audio or video file, that renders the file unreliable,” said Simpson.

Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood, Dawn Laguens, said the videos were altered to make the accusations against her organization and to make its staff sound callous.

“We have said all along, these are tough topics and visuals for many people under any circumstances, but the point of this call is that what we are able, through this analysis and Glenn’s independent look at this, is revealing that the tapes are not an accurate record of what happened and that in fact they are made to sound like they are talking about things they are not even talking about, and to be put in the worst light,” said Laguens. “What they are trying to do is cause maximum damage.”

The release of those videos has spawned investigations at the federal level and in several states. In Missouri, committees in both chambers of the General Assembly and the Attorney General’s office are all conducting investigations of Planned Parenthood’s operations.

The chairman of the Senate committee, Kurt Schaefer (R-Columbia), said the report released today by Planned Parenthood changes nothing.

“Their own experts found that there was no audio manipulation, and I think the fact that Planned Parenthood isn’t denying what’s in there, they’re just trying to deflect or change the subject, I think that clearly implies that they know that those statements are accurate. They’re not denying it,” said Schaefer.

Schaefer said his committee will keep looking for evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood or by state agencies or the University of Missouri, in the resumption of abortions in Columbia.

One of CMP’s activists, David Daleiden, in a statement on the organization’s website, said the report finding fault in his videos is a “failure.”

“The absence of bathroom break and waiting periods between meetings does not change the hours of dialogue with top-level Planned Parenthood executives eager to manipulate abortion procedures to high-quality baby parts for financially profitable sale,” wrote Daleiden.

Missouri House budget leaders vow to fight stadium funding that lacks voter, lawmaker approval

The state House’s budget committee leaders both say they will fight the paying of debt on a new St. Louis NFL stadium if voters or the legislature don’t approve it.

Representatives Scott Fitzpatrick (left) and Tom Flanigan.

Representatives Scott Fitzpatrick (left) and Tom Flanigan.

House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Flanigan (R-Carthage) said in a letter to Governor Jay Nixon (D) that he opposes using state tax credits and direct appropriations for debt service on a new stadium before the current stadium debt is paid off. He wrote he will not let an appropriation for debt service on a new stadium clear the House unless that debt is approved by Missouri voters or the legislature.

Nixon believes he can extend the bonds for the current stadium to finance a new roughly $1-billion dollar stadium, and without the approval of voters or the General Assembly.

Flanigan and others Missourinet spoke to believe that for him, the Budget Committee chairman, to oppose paying debt on those bonds could mean more to potential bond issuers or buyers, than for some other lawmakers to oppose it.

“My name is on the bill, and we’re the ones who are responsible for making sure the appropriations bills get passed in the House, so from that standpoint yes, I think we add a little bit more weight,” Flanigan told Missourinet.

Flanigan is expected to chair the budget committee through the 2016 session. His likely successor and the Budget Committee’s current co-chairman, Representative Scott Fitzpatrick (R-Shell Knob), sent a letter of his own urging Nixon, “reconsider your plans.” He added, “This letter will be distributed publicly to warn all potential bond purchasers to take note of my concerns and my intended course of action should you move forward.”

Fitzpatrick wrote that if the governor proceeds with bond issuance without the General Assembly’s or voters’ approval, it would be the governor’s fault if Missouri’s credit rating would be affected.

The leader of the House Democrats, Jake Hummel (D-St. Louis), criticized Flanigan and Fitzpatrick for their positions after both signed off on the current year’s budget after language was removed that would ban the use of state money to pay off bonds on a new stadium.

“Instead of sending out letters after the fact criticizing a proposal they voted to support during the legislative session, I encourage my colleagues to work together to ensure St. Louis remains an NFL city,” wrote Hummel.

Fitzpatrick said the language in question was opposed by then House Speaker John Diehl, Junior, who resigned at the end of the session. He also believes the language in that budget bill means the appropriation it approves could only go to the debt on the current stadium.

“As far as where people were then and where they are now,” Fitzpatrick told Missourinet, “I can tell you that the idea, the proposal that the governor’s put out, is something that I have not been in favor of the entire time.”

Flanigan wrote, and reiterated to Missourinet, that he does not oppose a new stadium in the St. Louis region.