Several new Missouri laws begin today. Each year, the Missouri Legislature passes many bills that officially become law on August 28. Here is background on some of the items officially becoming the real deal today.

Public health package
Senate Bill 106, sponsored by Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, requires doctors and doctors-in-training to get patient approval before giving a prostate, anal, or pelvic exam to unconscious or anesthetized patients. There are exceptions, including if the patient or person authorized to make health care decisions for the patient gives approval, the exam is necessary for diagnostic or treatment purposes, or a court orders the exam for evidence.

The plan requires health insurance companies to cover the full cost of follow-up breast exams if an initial mammogram finds potential problems.

It provides full Medicaid coverage to low-income women while they are pregnant and for one year after the end of their pregnancy, instead of the previous 60 days post-pregnancy.

Another item in the plan prevents the immediate loss of government benefits, like food stamps and childcare assistance, when participants get a pay raise or consider a job promotion.

Missouri will be taking a step to help increase the number of working adults with disabilities. Rep. Melanie Stinnett, R-Springfield, led the charge that requires state agencies to provide employment-related services or support to residents with disabilities. It ensures that they receive the opportunity to understand and explore education and training to become employed.

Another piece that Stinnett attached to this new law will allow working Missouri adults with disabilities to have their income limits increased while also helping them to keep their health insurance. This allows these workers who are offered promotions, raises, or a new job to consider the opportunities without losing access to their medical coverage. Up to $50,000 would be exempt from a spouse’s income toward that limit. The cap on premiums is at 250% of the federal poverty level.

The package creates a student loan forgiveness program for health care, mental health, and public health professionals.

It will also allow patients under 18 to have Do Not Resuscitate orders issued on their behalf by a parent or legal guardian or by a juvenile or family court.

Texting while driving ban
For years, the Missouri Legislature has attempted to ban texting while driving for all people behind the wheel driving in the Show-Me State. Lawmakers finally made it happen this year. Under Senate Bill 398, sponsored by Sen. Nick Schroer, R-St. Charles County, drivers will still be able to use their voice-activated or hands-free options to write, send, or read a text. It will also allow drivers to make phone calls using these same features.

Exemptions are provided for law enforcement and emergency services workers.

The new law bars police from pulling over a driver for using their phone as a primary traffic offense.

It will also let Missouri car dealers collect sales tax on vehicles from the buyers – instead of buyers paying the sales tax later at a Missouri license office. Rep. Michael O’Donnell, R-Oakville, added the item in the bill.

He said the cost of temporary car license tag abuse in Missouri is about $40 to $60 million in uncollected state tax revenues. According to O’Donnell, the provision could eliminate most of that abuse.

Tax relief for senior citizens
Senate Bill 190, sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, allows counties to freeze the property tax rates of Missouri seniors when the seniors turn 65. It will also exempt social security benefits from state income taxes, no matter how much is made.

Tax credits for film and music industries
Missouri wants to attract Hollywood back to the Show Me State. The Missouri Legislature passed tax credits for the film and music industries. Senate Bill 94, sponsored by Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, will provide a tax credit equal to 20% of qualifying film production expenses. The law will also make way for a tax credit for live entertainment rehearsal and tour expenses equal to 30% of the cost. The tax credits begin later this year and expire in 2030, unless the Legislature extends them.

Streamlining access to physical therapy services
Senate Bill 51, sponsored by Sen. Karla Eslinger, R-Wasola, will allow Missourians more direct access to physical therapy services. Under the new law, qualified physical therapists can treat patients without a prescription or referral from a physician. It requires physical therapists to consult with an approved health care provider within 10 visits or 30 days, whichever occurs first, before continuing therapy. They can provide programs, screenings, and consultations without a prescription or referral from a doctor.

Endorsement deals for high school athletes
Missouri high school athletes can start scoring endorsement deals as soon as they sign up to play for a Missouri college or university. The state Legislature passed House Bill 417, which updates Missouri’s NIL, or name, image, and likeness law. The plan will also let coaches and school employees negotiate endorsement deals for college athletes.

The item is included in legislation, sponsored by Speaker Pro Tem Mike Henderson, R-Desloge, that aims to help build and retain a skilled workforce in Missouri. The new law will reimburse employers who help their workers earn short-term certificates or credentials for high-need jobs.

Another component of the law attempts to address Missouri’s need for additional primary care physicians and psychiatrists. Rep. Patty Lewis, D-Kansas City, led this charge. She said the state’s medical schools do not currently have the capacity for these future doctors to complete post-graduate training. To help meet the demand, the new law ramps up the number of medical residency slots. It is subject to state funding.

Language standards for children with hearing challenges
For the first time, Missouri will develop language standards for children, birth to age 5, who are deaf or hard of hearing. In an effort to better communicate with others, parents will be able to monitor and track milestones in the language development of their child with hearing disabilities.

Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, sponsored the provisions added to House Bill 447. An advisory committee will be created to ask for input from experts on the selection of language development milestones. The panel will then work with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to finalize the standards.

For the 2024-25 school year and all subsequent school years, the state agency must come up with an annual report that is specific to language and literacy development of children who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Messing with livestock shipments will cost you
Missouri is beefing up the punishment for interfering in livestock shipments. The new law, championed by Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, creates the offense of interference with transportation of livestock. The offense will be a class E felony for the first time and a class C felony for any subsequent offenses. The previous punishment is a misdemeanor and a $1,000 fine.

Under Senate Bill 186, a person commits the crime if he or she knowingly stops, hinders, impedes, boards, or otherwise interferes with a motor vehicle transporting livestock; provokes or disturbs livestock confined in a motor vehicle; or puts a compound or substance on livestock that would affect the livestock’s marketability, affect animal or human health, or result in an unreasonable transportation delay.

Missouri legalizes tools to help fight drugs, overdoses
Missouri law has been getting in the way of sheriff’s departments when they respond to drug overdoses. A new law will no longer require them to be under the supervision of a medical director or ambulance service in order to give reversal drugs or devices to people who have overdosed.

Rep. Brenda Shields, R-St. Joseph, who pushed the effort across the finish line, said many sheriff’s departments do not have a medical director on staff. To get around the previous law, law enforcement officers might have found a Good Samaritan to administer Naloxone or Narcan on the person who overdosed.

In addition, Senate Bill 186 will legalize the use of fentanyl testing strips to test for the presence of the powerful opioid. It will also allow the making, selling, possessing, and delivering of these items.

Another item in the plan will make it tougher to cheat on drug tests by banning the sale and distribution of drug masking items, such as synthetic urine.

Limits on transgender healthcare, sports participation
Senate Bill 49 will ban doctors from prescribing or giving cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs to any person under 18 years old. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, will also ban physicians from doing gender transition surgery on minors. Minors prescribed puberty blockers or hormones before August 28 would be able to continue to receive those drugs. As for adults, Medicaid will no longer cover treatments for them, and the state will not provide those surgeries to prisoners. Doctors who violate the bill could have their medical license revoked. The law is set to expire in August 2027.

Senate Bill 39, sponsored by Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, R-Sikeston, will require athletes to compete on sports teams aligned with their biological sex. The restrictions are for Missouri public and private schools through college. Schools can allow a female student to compete in sports designated for male students if no corresponding competition for female students is offered or available. Any Missouri school that violates the bill could lose state aid or other state revenues.

Changes to pension plan access for Missouri sheriffs
Beginning the next election cycle, sheriffs elected in Missouri will have fewer options for retirement. Under Senate Bills 20 and 75, they will require all future sheriffs to only use the Sheriff’s Retirement System, and they won’t be vested until they’ve served two four-year terms in office.

The Sheriff’s Retirement System will now be allowed to accept third-party gifts, sheriffs will be required to contribute at least 5% of their salaries, and Gov. Mike Parson added $2.5 million to the pension fund.

Regulations on disposition of dead bodies
New regulations take effect today about the disposition of dead bodies. Senate Bill 116, sponsored by State Sen. Justin Brown, R-Rolla, is intended to expedite the death certificate process. It will enable family members to more quickly settle their loved one’s estate, close out checking accounts and cell phone numbers, and conclude other matters. The new law contains several other provisions, including one that would remove a deceased person’s spouse from the next of kin list if the couple had been in the midst of getting divorced. It will also require notification of next of kin whenever a cemetery owner or operator moves a “properly buried” body to another location.

Helping Missouri’s agriculture industry
A wide-ranging package to help Missouri agriculture includes boosting the limit for tax credits used to sell and produce ethanol blend and biodiesel fuel. The tax credit increase from $4 million to $5.5 million is for selling a higher ethanol blend of fuel and for producing biodiesel.

Senate Bill 138 also includes an opportunity to help prevent future floods from causing such devastation. The Flood Resiliency Program is designed to increase flood resiliency along the Missouri and Mississippi rivers and their tributaries, in addition to improving statewide flood forecasting and monitoring.

The plan will increase the maximum weight requirements for log trucks from 52 tons to 54 tons.

As for future farmers, the package gives an income tax deduction to farmers who sell their land to a beginning farmer under a crop-share agreement. Crop-share agreements define how a landowner, and an operator will share the crop as compensation for land and labor contributions.

Lastly, the new will forgive up to $30,000 worth of student loans for as many as 12 Missouri large animal vets.

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