JEFFERSON CITY – Several measures carried through the Missouri Senate by Sen. Jay Wasson, R-Nixa, received the governor’s executive approval today on Tuesday, adding these to the list of legislation that will take effect on Aug. 28.
House Bill 1323, which contains a provision found in Senate Bill 758, sponsored by Sen. Wasson, strengthens protections for Missouri children by enacting a number of critical changes to the handling of hotline abuse calls by the Children’s Division within the Department of Social Services.
This legislation was brought before Sen. Wasson as a result of a tragic incident in 2005 in which the state’s child abuse hotline was contacted several times to report a young toddler was being abused by his mother’s boyfriend. A caseworker was sent to the home where the toddler was staying, but there was no one present. After the caseworker left a business card and later returned to investigate the abuse allegations, it was determined there was no evidence of abuse. The young boy was killed shortly thereafter; the mother’s ex-boyfriend was convicted of his death.
House Bill 1323, also known as “Gavin’s Bill,” shed a light on the need for certain improvements in the process of investigating and dealing with child abuse allegations.
“Caseworkers in the Children’s Division have one of the hardest jobs imaginable, determining when visiting homes on a daily basis if a child has been abused and if he or she should be removed from his or her living situation,” said Sen. Wasson. “This legislation brings to the forefront changes that would make this system stronger. Although many changes have already been implemented, it’s important that we put them in our state’s statutes.”
In any case where a child is seriously injured or dies, House Bill 1323 requires the hotline workers or caseworker who handled the case to receive a preliminary evaluation by the division to determine if the worker is still able to competently handle his or her duties.
The legislation also requires the Children’s Division to review cases where repeated calls involving the same child occur within a 72-hour time period to determine if the calls meet the criteria to initiate a child abuse and neglect report. Under the bill, hotline workers are required to advise individuals to call 911 when a child may be in immediate danger.
“A single call can start the process of judging whether or not a child is being abused and if intervention is needed,” said Sen. Wasson. “However, multiple calls within a short amount of time can give hotline workers a clearer picture, and that should warrant a faster response.”
In addition, House Bill 1323 prohibits caseworkers responding to a hotline call from leaving a business card, pamphlet or other identifying information if there is no one present at the time of the home visit and the alleged abuser resides at the home. If the alleged abuser is present during the visit, the caseworker is required to provide written material informing him or her of his or her rights regarding the visit.
Legislation vetoed by the governor last year, but signed into law today establishes a peer review process for services provided by certain industry professionals. House Bill 1280, ushered through the upper chamber by Sen. Wasson, creates a system in which design professionals can evaluate, maintain or monitor the quality and utilization of services performed by a licensed architect, landscape architect, professional land surveyor or professional engineer.
“This legislation prevents these professionals from being held liable for assisting those in their designated industry,” said Sen. Wasson. “Businessmen and women often seek the opinions of and ask for evaluations by their colleagues regarding various projects on a daily basis. Professionals in this particular industry should receive the same courtesy without the threat of legal discourse.”
House Bill 1150, which contains a provision sponsored by Sen. Wasson that allows insurers who purchase vehicles through the claims adjustment process to obtain salvage certificates of titles or junking certificates under certain conditions, also received the governor’s signature today. The legislation also addresses scrap metal operators and statutory liens.
“Owners who have a salvage title and present their vehicle, which is at least 10 years old, for an inspection so they can obtain a certificate of ownership should not be required to repair or restore the vehicle to its original appearance in order for it to pass or complete the vehicle examination,” said Sen. Wasson. “This legislation now sets this rule in place.”
Another measure, House Bill 1807, which received the governor’s approval earlier, contains Sen. Wasson’s legislation (Senate Bill 831) that designates a portion of Highway 5 between the city of Ava and Mansfield as the “Missouri Fox Trotting Highway.”
“With this designation in Douglas County, this portion of highway will soon carry the namesake of Missouri’s official state horse, whose wide-ranging ability, stamina and smooth composure is a positive reflection of key characteristics found in many citizens throughout the county, as well as the Show-Me State,” said Sen. Wasson.
Finally, House Bill 1400, signed into law today, changes Missouri law regarding the investment of certain public funds, perfection of security interests, Division of Finance examinations and residential mortgage loan brokers. The legislation was handled in the upper chamber by Sen. Wasson.
“This encompassing measure relating to financial transactions contains provisions that benefit Missourians across the state,” said Sen. Wasson. “Even the smallest changes in state statute regarding how certain funds are invested and maintained result in stronger financial provisions for citizens who work in and depend on these industries.”
House Bill 1400 contains an emergency clause, meaning provisions in the legislation took effect immediately upon receipt of the governor’s signature.
To see a complete list of bills sponsored and handled by Sen. Wasson in the Missouri Senate, visit www.senate.mo.gov/wasson.