While the 2020 legislative session was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature was still able to pass numerous bills that address some of the most pressing issues facing the state. The …
While the 2020 legislative session was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature was still able to pass numerous bills that address some of the most pressing issues facing the state. The majority of the bills approved by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. Parson went into effect on August 28.
In total, the Missouri House and Senate approved 51 pieces of legislation during the 2020 session. That number is down from the 92 bills that made it across the legislative finish line in 2019. For 2020, 33 House bills made their way into law, with 18 of the bills being appropriations bills for the state operating budget. Sixteen pieces of Senate legislation ultimately received approval from the legislature and the governor. Gov. Parson vetoed two of the 51 bills sent to him by the legislature.
The bills passed by the General Assembly address a wide array of subjects ranging from workforce development to public safety to property tax relief. Some of the noteworthy changes that went into effect August 28 include:
License Reciprocity and Workforce Development (HB 2046) – The legislation will allow professionals moving to Missouri to continue working in their professions without delay by recognizing the licensing they have obtained in other states. It also will expand Missouri’s recognition of apprenticeships as a path to licensure and work and will allow apprentices to obtain industry licenses as part of an apprenticeship. Additionally, the bill allows prior offenders who have served their time to integrate more effectively back into society by providing a path to meaningful work without arbitrary discrimination.
Protections for Victims of Sexual Assault (SB 569) – The bill will give victims of sexual assault access to a secure electronic tracking system for their Sexual Assault Forensic Evidence (SAFE) kits. It also directs the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services to establish a statewide telehealth network to provide forensic exams for victims of sexual assault. The bill also includes rights and protections for survivors of sexual assault during any medical examination and interactions with law enforcement, the prosecuting attorney and the defense attorney.
Protecting Children (HB 1414) – This new law in Missouri makes much-needed improvements to the state’s foster care system. The legislation is meant to better protect young people by modernizing the system and making it more accountable, as well as making the data in the system more transparent. The legislation will give mental health and child care professionals the tools they need to better serve the needs of children.
Postpartum Depression Care Act (HB 1682) – Another new law will help new mothers experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. The bill is meant to address the fact that Missouri currently ranks sixth in the nation for its high rate of maternal mortality, with postpartum suicide as the second leading cause of death for new mothers. It will provide women who screen positive for postpartum depression with postpartum depression care through Medicaid for up to one year. It also encourages certain health care providers to give information on postpartum depression to new parents, and offer voluntary screening for new mothers during their regularly scheduled well-woman and well-baby check-ups following pregnancy.
Removing Prescription Requirement for Cold Medicine (HB 1682) – A new law approved in 2020 will prohibit local ordinances and regulations requiring prescriptions for cold medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. The bill voids any existing requirements already in place. The prohibition will expire if the state’s methamphetamine lab seizure incidents exceed 300 incidents in a year.
Improving Public Safety (SB 600) – A bill that is now law is meant to address the issue of violent crime in Missouri. The legislation increases the prison terms for the offense of armed criminal action. It also increases the minimum prison term for an individual convicted of armed criminal action if the individual unlawfully possesses a firearm. Additionally, the bill increases the penalty for unlawful possession of a firearm. The bill creates the offense of vehicle hijacking, which is committed when an individual knowingly uses or threatens the use of physical force upon another individual to seize or attempt to seize possession or control of a vehicle. It also creates the Missouri Criminal Street Gangs Prevention Act.
Combating Drug Trafficking (HB 1896) – The legislature and the governor approved a new law that increases penalties for trafficking the dangerous drug fentanyl, which is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and the use of which can easily result in overdoses. The new law makes it a Class B felony to knowingly distribute, make, or attempt to distribute or make, more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl or its derivatives. Making or distributing 20 or more milligrams is a Class A felony. The legislation also increases the penalties for trafficking one gram or more of Rohypnol or any amount of GHB, both of which are often used in sex crimes. The bill also includes offenses for possessing and purchasing the dangerous drugs.
Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act (HB 1387 & 1482) – A new law now in effect is meant to help Missourians monitor the care of their loved ones. The bill establishes the “Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act.” It allows video cameras to be installed in long-term care facilities so that family members can monitor the care of their loved ones. The issue grew out of safety concerns of Missourians with loved ones in long-term care facilities and became even more important when COVID-19 caused facilities to close their doors to visitors. With this legislative fix, families can request installation of monitoring equipment so they can closely monitor the care received by their loved ones.
Partial Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal (House Bill 1963) – A wide-ranging transportation bill approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by the governor includes a partial repeal of the state’s motorcycle helmet law. Under the bill, motorcycle drivers 26 years and older can now go helmetless if they have their own health insurance. Individuals under the age of 26 who operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle or motortricycle must wear a helmet when the vehicle is in motion.
Expanding Access to Broadband (HB 1768) – A bill approved during the 2020 legislative session that is now law is meant to bring access to broadband internet to the nearly 1 million Missourians who do not have it. The legislation will help to keep vital funds to expand access to broadband internet in the state. It will enable the Department of Economic Development to legally seek to have any funds that would otherwise be returned to the federal government to be retained in Missouri and awarded to other eligible qualified Missouri broadband providers. The bill also allows community and neighborhood improvement districts to partner with broadband providers to construct or improve facilities to provide service to the unserved and underserved. Additionally, it expands the sunset on the Missouri broadband fund until 2027, and the sunset for deploying 5G until 2025.
Visiting the Capitol
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