August 28, 2015

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.

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.

Likely Democratic MO Governor candidate touts record of head-butting with EPA

Missouri’s likely Democratic nominee for governor is touting his record on something more commonly attributed to Republicans: standing up to the federal government’s environmental regulations.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is expected to be the Democratic nominee for Missouri governor in 2016.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster is expected to be the Democratic nominee for Missouri governor in 2016.

During his stop at the Missouri State Fair, Chris Koster highlighted his office’s work fighting the Environmental Protection Agency on mercury emissions from power plants such as the Ameren plant at Labadie and the clean water rule better known as the Waters of the U.S., and said his office is considering action regarding the clean air rule that could affect Missouri’s coal-fired power plants.

Koster dropped in on a Missouri Farm Bureau forum where several Republicans spoke about the Waters of the US rule, which he called a “tremendous overreach.”

“It is for Missourians to decide how the land in the state of Missouri is regulated. It is not for the Environmental Protection Agency to send their lawyers and their regulators into our state and displace the Department of Natural Resources,” Koster told Missourinet. “We have no way of electing those people, we have no say over how they govern us, and it’s just not the way the Union was set up.”

Federal “overreach” is something often decried by Republicans, but in Missouri some Democrats espouse similar views. Koster, a former Republican, says it’s not a new position for him.

“The first part of my career was in rural Missouri, so I feel deeply the passion in rural Missouri against federal overreach, and against decision making that comes out of Washington, and that doesn’t have an understanding for the needs of rural Missouri, the needs of agricultural Missouri,” said Koster.

At the Farm Bureau presser Republican U.S. House members Jason Smith, Vicky Hartzler, and Blaine Luetkemeyer and Senator Roy Blunt, all Missouri Republicans, discussed the Waters of the U.S. rule, saying it should be defunded and expressing a belief that lawsuits against it will be successful.  Smith said he would favor abolishing the EPA.

The Farm Bureau also released an interactive map showing 99-percent of the state’s total acreage being subject to EPA jurisdiction under the rule.

Koster agreed with that assessment.

“I have a desk in Jefferson City that is probably 100-feet above the Missouri River and nearly a mile back from the Missouri River, but the desk that I sit at and that all of my predecessors have sat at is in the Waters of the United States. The whole state is in the Waters of the United States, for all practical purposes,” said Koster.

Koster is the only Democrat running for that party’s nomination for Missouri governor in 2016. He is expected to face an opponent from a cast of at least five Republicans who have declared their candidacy.

Missouri’s GOP is critical of Koster, though, for not joining other states in fighting federal carbon regulations, and accuse him of an “election cycle deception.”

University of Missouri Professor predicts campaign attention, little opinion change from Planned Parenthood videos

Allegations that Planned Parenthood has illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue isn’t changing many people’s minds about the organization, according to a University of Missouri professor.

Professor Peverill Squire

Professor Peverill Squire

Anti-abortion activitists and lawmakers have said that series of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood doctors talking about fetal tissue collection and related costs should change the minds of some who support the organization or abortion availability.

Political Science Professor Peverill Squire says that isn’t likely.

“I think most people have formed their opinions on this topic and are likely not to be shaken one way or the other,” Squire told Missourinet. “We’ll probably have a lot of sound and fury about this for a little while, but in the end I don’t think much will dramatically change.”

“They have put Planned Parenthood on the defensive,” Squire said of the videos. “I think a lot of people have started to think about some of the activities involved in fetal tissue research that they probably hadn’t thought about for two decades.”

Squire says the issue has reignited the abortion debate, that will play into the 2016 elections for each side.

“This will be good for the Republicans if it gets the pro-life people worked up in favor of whoever gets the Republican nomination. On the other side, the Democrats will try to use it to maintain their lead among women voters and again to get, particularly young, single women, out to vote,” said Squire. “Again, it won’t be so much trying to change people’s minds, but trying to get people actually out to vote.”

Squire doesn’t expect much to change as a result of Congress’ attention to the matter, though there might be at the state level in some states.

Planned Parenthood dismisses the videos as being edited to present a false narrative, and says it has conducted its fetal tissue donation program legally and ethically in the states where it exists.  It says Missouri is not one of those states.

A state Senate committee on Planned Parenthood continues its hearings this afternoon. Watch live at

Professor Squire spoke to Missourinet before the University of Missouri’s alleged connection to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Columbia’s resumption of abortions came to light.

Most Missouri GOP gubernatorial hopefuls turn out for Governor’s Ham Breakfast

Most of the GOP candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor were at the Governor’s Ham Breakfast at the Missouri State Fair. That’s four who have officially declared their candidacy, and one who has all but.

Candidates in multiple races and hundreds of supporters, staffers, and reporters can be found at the annual Governor's Ham Breakfast.

Candidates in multiple races and hundreds of supporters, staffers, and reporters can be found at the annual Governor’s Ham Breakfast.

Lieutenant Governor Peter Kinder has been polling high since he entered the race. He thinks he keeps that momentum by doing what he’s done in winning three statewide campaigns.

“And that is just trying to show up all over the state as often as you can, in as many diverse and different places as you can, and in my case that includes going into the urban core to compete for minority votes who usually don’t vote Republican,” Kinder told Missourinet.

Kinder said it’s more important to him that a Republican become governor than that he become governor, but he thinks his record of winning statewide elections makes him the most likely Republican to win.

“It’s time for Republicans to go with and line up behind a proven winner,” said Kinder.

Former House Speaker and U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway has been in the race the longest, and thinks her time out of office sets her apart from Kinder.

“Living in the real world, raising our kids, working for a living, not being a career politician is a vastly different experience, but it’s not as though I’m without experience in government,” said Hanaway.

Springfield state senator Bob Dixon has been in the race for just more than a month, but said he declined requests that he run for more than a year. He doesn’t think that delay has cost him backers.

“Support has been quietly there over the year and I didn’t realize how much they were very supportive and their on board and really pushing very hard in support of our effort,” said Dixon.

2012 Senate candidate and businessman John Brunner told Missourinet his formal announcement will come within a month.

“People are all hung up on these stages here, but we’re full in, all the way, doing everything we can,” said Brunner, who noted that no one is officially a candidate until filing begins in the spring.

Brunner thinks voters want someone whose background isn’t political.

“Whether it’s doctor Ben Carson on the national level or Donald Trump on the national level, people are fed up, and they want people who have done things to get in there and get the job done,” said Brunner.

Former state representative and deputy director of agriculture Randy Asbury is confident he is building name recognition, “Getting out and speaking wherever we can, and we take every opportunity to do that. People are seeing that we’re legitimate, that we’re serious, and that we’re a contender.”

Three of the GOP gubernatorial hopefuls commented on the allegations that Planned Parenthood has broken laws against selling fetal tissue. Hanaway thinks Governor Jay Nixon (D) should call a special session to increase the penalty for such a crime.

“It’s only a misdemeanor in Missouri and we need to at least get it up to a felony. It’s a serious crime,” said Hanaway. “That way if somebody is caught doing it, if it proves to be true that is happening in Planned Parenthood, we can seriously penalize the people doing it.”

Asbury hopes the videos raising those allegations have an impact even on people who are pro-choice.

“I think if Planned Parenthood disappeared there are plenty of services out there through local opportunities that women can partake of without problems, so as far as I’m concerned Planned Parenthood can disappear,” said Asbury. “Because what they do is not a benefit to our state and certainly not a benefit to our children.”

On the day after the first of those videos was released Kinder called for legislative hearings into Planned Parenthood’s operations in Missouri – hearings that continue this week.

The candidates also participated in a forum at the Missouri Farm Bureau building about the federal clean water rule, better known as the Waters of the U.S.

Dixon said such regulations are threatening Missourians, particularly in the agriculture industry.

“That is a clear example of the federal government run amok. It doesn’t make any sense, and in Missouri we are common sense people,” said Dixon.
Brunner would make 5 GOP candidates, and a likely 6th would be former Navy SEAL and author Eric Greitens.

They’re vying for the chance to challenge Democrat Chris Koster for the governor’s office in 2016.