Gov. Mike Parson has a matter of days left to take action on a number of bills passed during the Missouri Legislature’s regular session. Here is a list of some of the key measures awaiting a decision by the governor:
Partial motorcycle helmet law repeal and Hyperloop
House Bill 1963 is a sweeping transportation bill that would include a partial repeal of the state’s motorcycle helmet law. Motorcycle drivers 26 years and older could go helmetless if they have their own health insurance. Under the plan sponsored by Representative Travis Fitzwater, R-Holts Summit, motorcycle passengers would still be required to wear a helmet. The measure would also let a state commission create a public-private partnership to build a Hyperloop tube travel system in Missouri, but would ban the use of eminent domain to build one.
Lawmakers passed changes to the state’s new medical marijuana industry. The FBI informed the state health department, which regulates the industry, that DHSS will not have access to its national fingerprint background check database. Representative Lane Roberts, R-Joplin, says his legislation would clear up that problem. Under House Bill 1896, the agency could also require fingerprints from medical marijuana business employees as part of the licensing or certification process. The measure would require department employees associated with licensing medical marijuana businesses to submit their fingerprints for criminal background checks. The bill would also ban medical marijuana edibles designed in the shape of a human, animal, or fruit, including realistic, artistic, caricature, or cartoon renderings. However, geometric shapes, including, but not limited to, circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles, are allowed.
Rape kit testing efforts
Sen. Andrew Koenig’s legislation would require Missouri hospitals to perform a forensic exam using an evidence kit upon the request and consent of a sexual assault victim. Senate Bill 569 would give hospitals access to virtual and in-person training on how to use the kits. It would also require the state to create a centralized place to store unreported rape kits and require those kits to be stored for at least five years.
Missouri has about 6,800 untested rape kits. State Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office has shipped about 1,000 of those to a lab for testing and is working to get all of them tested.
Electronic monitoring within patient rooms of long-term healthcare centers
Under House Bill 1387, residents of long-term care centers in Missouri would be allowed to have covert and authorized electronic monitoring devices within their rooms. Facilities and any residents with such monitoring must post a visible sign indicating that rooms, including the room of the resident, are being monitored. The gadget must be owned and operated by the resident or the resident’s legal guardian. Representative Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis, is the bill sponsor.
No state taxes on federal stimulus payment
Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville wants to prevent Missourians from being taxed by the state for their federal coronavirus stimulus payment. He says the money was already free of federal taxes, but was subject to state income taxes. Senate Bill 676 would also require county assessors to do a physical inspection of real estate prior to increasing a property’s assessment more than 15%.
Other bills already signed by the governor include:
Senate Bill 591 puts new limits on punitive damages in liability lawsuits. The legislation allows juries to award punitive damages only when plaintiffs prove by clear and convincing evidence that defendants “intentionally harmed” someone without just cause or acted with “deliberate and flagrant disregard for the safety of others.” Sen. Bill White, R-Joplin, sponsored the Republican and business-friendly bill.
Gov. Parson has signed into law sweeping changes aimed at cracking down on violent crime. Senate Bill 600 creates mandatory prison sentences for several violent crimes, and creates a new offense of vehicle hijacking. Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer’s bill defines street gangs and specifies that gang members could face a felony for being part of a gang.
Mail-in voting during pandemic
Current state law allows voters to mail in their election ballots for reasons like illness or travel. Under Senate Bill 631, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, voters can say they are ill if they are 65 or older, live in a nursing or assisted home or have certain health conditions, including heart problems, asthma, or chronic lung disease.
Voters who cannot use one of the excuses can still mail in their ballot, but they are required to get their ballot notarized. The approach – to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus – would only be allowed during this year’s August and November statewide elections.
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