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Work Continues in Final Hours
At this writing, we are close to the end of the 2011 legislative session. However, until the final gavel falls at 6 p.m. on May 13, nothing is certain. Legislation can move quickly in the final days of session, with some bills passing literally within minutes of the deadline. Major legislation, like House Bill 116, an important economic development measure, could still come together in these final hours. Our work is focused on completing these important priorities before the clock strikes six o’clock.
Legislation Passed in Final Days of Session
We have completed work on several important measures that have been approved by the Legislature and sent to the governor for his signature.
Preventing Voter Fraud
I am a supporter of fighting voter fraud through requiring voters to produce a photo ID to vote, and I supported the passage of legislation to accomplish this goal in the Senate. During the legislative process, however, compromise is often necessary and advance voting, a measure I do not support, was added to the measures containing voter ID. Senate Joint Resolution 2 would, if voters approve the measure, change Missouri’s constitution to require voters to produce valid, government-issued photo identification before casting their ballot. Advance voting could also be established under SJR 2, allowing Missourians to vote from the third Saturday before an election until the first Tuesday before an election, excluding Sundays. Senate Bill 3 is the enacting legislation for SJR 2 and contains many of the details that would allow for voter ID and advance voting. The legislation would only go into effect if voters approve SJR 2, and Missourians will make their voices heard on both issues in November 2012.
Outlawing Dangerous Substances
House Bill 641 would outlaw certain harmful drugs, including several substances recently put on the market as synthetic versions of marijuana and cocaine. This includes the substances being marketed as “bath salts,” that are really a synthetic form of meth or cocaine. These “bath salts” have been to blame for overdoses and deaths throughout the country, and these drugs need to be labeled for what they really are — a dangerous controlled substance.
Addressing Outdated Domestic Violence Laws
Senate Bill 320 is a bill aimed at implementing recommendations set forth by a task force that studied domestic violence laws in Missouri over the past year. The bill would eliminate conflicts between child and adult orders of protection, expand and strengthen orders of protection, and provide consistency between the various chapters of law dealing with domestic assault and stalking. With the governor’s signature, this will be the first major overhaul of Missouri’s domestic violence laws in more than 30 years.
Making Sure Missouri Doesn’t Become a Haven for Human Trafficking
Human trafficking may seem like an issue that is far from Missouri, but the reality is that there are instances of human trafficking in the state, and we need the tools to handle these crimes and punish the perpetrators. House Bill 214, which was sent to the governor’s desk earlier in the week, increases sentences for those convicted of trafficking for slavery or forced labor, trafficking for sexual exploitation and abuse through forced labor. The bill also requires those convicted of trafficking offenses to pay restitution to compensate victims. The bill would also allow trafficking victims to file a civil lawsuit and the state attorney general’s office to file its own lawsuit seeking civil penalties.
Sponsored Legislation Approved by Legislature
I have also been proud to successfully sponsor several measures in the Senate this year. I detailed some of these bills in my column last week. This week, several more provisions I have sponsored were approved by the House and Senate, including Senate Bill 220, which affects architects, engineers, landscape architects, and land surveyors.
One aspect of SB 220 authorizes the establishment of a peer review process for these professions. This allows architects, landscape architects, professional land surveyors, or professional engineers to discuss their plans with their fellow professionals to get feed-back during the planning and design stage of a project. The information and suggestions provided in the peer review process could not be used later in court.
Another aspect of SB 220 increases liens for architects, engineers, landscape architects, land surveyors, and corporations. Under current law, these professionals who perform work on buildings or land have a lien on the building or land to the extent of one acre. This bill would increase the lien to encompass three acres.
If you have any questions or comments about this or any other matter regarding your state government, please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-1503; you are also welcome to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.