The halfway point of this legislative session has included little progress on life-saving measures. Some of the proposed safety regulations getting off to a slow start include a primary seatbelt law, a texting while driving ban and one that’s intended to prohibit domestic violence criminals from having guns. Another aims to prevent electrical shock drownings at Missouri lakes.
A primary seat belt law would allow law enforcement to pull over drivers solely for not wearing safety restraints. At least 34 other states have the law. Republican Reps. Bill Reiboldt of Neosho and Rory Rowland of Independence have not had their bills assigned to a committee.
State Rep. Cloria Brown, R-St. Louis, wants to ban texting while driving unless it’s through hands-free texting technology. This is the third year Brown has sponsored the legislation. Missouri is one of three states that allows drivers to text while operating a vehicle.
Reps. Donna Lichtenegger, R-Jackson, and Tracy McCreery, D-Olivette, want to prohibit domestic violence abusers from carrying guns. Their proposals aim to close a gun loophole created when the legislature passed in 2016 a broad expansion of the state’s gun rights.
The glitch was apparently found late in the process. Instead of virtually going back to square one, lawmakers agreed they would fix the issue during the 2017 session. That promise fell through and could be resolved this session.
McCreery tells Missourinet the legislation is just as much about protecting law enforcement as it is domestic violence victims and their families.
“One of the most dangerous things that our law enforcement officers do is respond to domestic violence calls. Those are often when our beloved law enforcement ends up getting injured or killed on the job,” she says.
McCreery’s bill would mirror federal law to include dating partners in the definition of domestic violence abusers. It would also restore power to law enforcement officers in Missouri to take guns away from abusers.
Lichtenegger says her bill would change any domestic assault with a weapon from a misdemeanor to a felony charge and give judges more authority with the charges.
“At this point, we are trying to get the guns out of the house,” she tells Missourinet.
Lichtenegger’s measure has passed unanimously out of one House committee and is being considered by another.
Sen. Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, wants to enact a policy meant to put an end to electrical shock drownings. The bill, once sponsored by former Republican state Rep. Caleb Jones of Columbia, was filed in response to the 2012 drownings of Brayden and Alexandra Anderson of Ashland on the Lake of the Ozarks. Since 2012, four people have died at the lake from electric shock drowning.
Hummel, an electrician by day, is proposing to make new docks and those changing ownership have safety inspections and meet new standards like requiring a switch to cut off power to the docks. The bill would also mandate that Highway Patrol boats have defibrillators. Rep. Joe Runions, D-Grandview, has filed a similar bill in House.
Lawmakers, who are on spring break this week, have sent two bills to the governor so far this session. Of the more than 3,600 bills filed by members for consideration this year, the House has passed 158 proposals and the Senate has passed 39.