Tim Taylor's Capitol Report: Public safety and protecting Missouri citizens
The end of session brought more legislation than could be reported in one of my Capitol Reports. This week continues with legislation sent to the Governor this session. The following primarily pertains to public safety and protecting Missouri citizens. Watch for further updates next week on the successes of the 2021 Legislative Session. For a complete list, I encourage everyone to research all bills for more information by going to house.mo.gov and click on Legislation. I encourage you to sign up to receive my full Capitol Report by emailing me at Tim.Taylor@house.mo.gov.
Senate Bill 53 covers the following:
Protecting Police Officers – This will create a new felony offense of “doxing” a police officer. “Doxing” involves exposing an officer’s private information online in an effort to intimidate or harass them. It is a problem that has become too common in the modern, electronic age and has posed new threats to police officers and their families. It is makes it a felony offense to knowingly post the name, home address, Social Security number, telephone number, or any other personally identifiable information of any law enforcement officer, corrections officer, parole officer, or prosecuting attorney, or the information of an immediate family member.
Improving the Response to Accident and Crime Scenes - Forensic investigators, coroners, and medical examiners will be able to utilize fixed, flashing, or rotating red or red and blue lights on their vehicle when responding to a crime scene or accident. The bill is meant not only to increase access and safety for investigators as they respond to the scene, but also to eliminate unnecessary delay for fire, law enforcement, medical, and highway department personnel.
Providing Assistance to Veterans - Veterans will have access to affordable veterans treatment courts. The treatment courts are meant to help veterans who suffer from mental illness or addiction due to combat-related stress or difficulty adjusting to life at home. SB 53 provides that costs for a veterans treatment court will be fully waived for any honorably discharged veteran of any branch of the Armed Forces and who successfully completes the treatment court.
Ensuring Witnesses Can Provide Key Testimony – Witness protection will be strengthened so they can provide key testimony that will put violent criminals behind bars. It will allow certain witness statements to be admissible in court that would otherwise not be allowed under current statute. In effect, the bill will ensure a witness is able to submit testimony in situations where the defendant has engaged in wrongdoing with the purpose of causing the unavailability of the witness.
Getting Kids to School Safely – Head Start buses throughout the state will enhance protections. Head Start bus protections will be brought more in line with regular school bus protections and ensure all Missouri children get to school safely each and every day.
Law Enforcement Bill of Rights (SB 26)
SB 26 is meant to provide support for those who protect and serve. The bill creates the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights to ensure due process for peace officers who are the subject of an investigation that could lead to disciplinary action, demotion, dismissal, transfer, or placement that could lead to economic loss. The bill also contains a provision to protect police departments against efforts to cut their budgets. It allows citizens in any community that cuts its law enforcement budget by more than 12 percent to sue for injunctive relief, which would mean the cuts could be immediately halted and reversed under Missouri law.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Signed into Law (SB 63)
Legislation approved by the General Assembly to create a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) was recently signed into law by Gov. Mike Parson.
The PDMP will allow medical professionals to see their patients’ medication history, which will allow them to recognize signs of addiction and prevent dangerous drug interactions. The bill establishes the Joint Oversight Task Force of Prescription Drug Monitoring, which is responsible for collecting and maintaining the prescription and dispensation of prescribed controlled substances to patients within the state.
The new statewide PDMP replaces the St. Louis County program, which is currently covering 85% of Missouri citizens and does not provide protection for 2nd Amendment rights. The bill limits access to private information to medical professionals, specifically prohibits the information from being used to deny firearm purchases, and includes a rolling purge of the data. Under the bill, patient information is considered a closed record under state law and will not be provided to law enforcement agencies, prosecutorial officials, or regulatory bodies for purposes not allowed under HIPAA.
Similar statewide prescription drug monitoring programs have been adopted in every other state in the country, as well as the District of Columbia and Guam, in an effort to address the opioid epidemic occurring across the United States.
The bill also extends the expiration date of the RX Cares for Missouri Program to August 28, 2026.
Improving Cybersecurity for Missouri (SB 49)
SB 49 creates the Missouri Cybersecurity Commission to identify risk and vulnerability from cyberattacks of critical infrastructure in the state. The commission will solicit data and find vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure in political subdivisions around the state and make sure a good security process is in place to protect the state from cybersecurity threats.
Protecting Lottery Winners (HB 402)
HB 402 changes state law to prohibit the lottery from publishing the name, address, or identifying information of a lottery winner in printed or electronic form. The change is meant to provide an added level of safety for individuals who win lottery prizes in Missouri. The bill does allow a winner to sign a form allowing the Lottery to disclose his or her identifying information.
It is my honor to serve the constituents of District 48. If you have questions, concerns, or input, please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-0169 or you can reach my Legislator Assistant, June, at June.Cardwell@house.mo.gov.