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Cunningham Report 6.19.2014

Session Highlights II:
Key Pieces of Legislation 
Passed by the General Assembly
This week’s column will once again highlight what I consider key pieces of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year.
Missouri now joins Utah and South Dakota as the only states in the nation to mandate a 72-hour waiting period for abortions.
The passage of House Bill 1307 has drawn much attention to the Missouri Legislature since we are only the third state to pass legislation that will extend the waiting time for women seeking an abortion, in certain circumstances, from 24 to 72 hours. Current law states that circumstances deemed to be medical emergencies are exempt from the 24-hour required waiting period. This measure includes that medical exemption.
This legislation does contain a clause that would leave the mandated waiting period at 24 hours, should there be court proceedings that may temporarily make the law invalid.
This legislation still awaits the governor’s signature.
House Bill 1132 raises the amount of tax credits available for people and businesses that donate to pregnancy resource centers and food pantries. Starting with Fiscal Year 2015, there are $2.5 million in tax credits to be claimed on donations to pregnancy resource centers and $1.75 million for food pantries. The food pantry tax credits expire Dec. 31, 2019.
Pregnancy resource centers typically offer pregnancy tests, option counseling, and limited ultrasounds. These centers are vital to ensure that women in crisis pregnancies are given fair and accurate information about all of the options they have.
This year there has been much debate both in and out of the Capitol regarding Common Core in our state’s schools. House Bill 1490 calls for Common Core to progress while two work groups of educational experts and leaders are created to develop new standards – one for kindergarten through grade five and another for 6th -12th grade. The new standards suggested by the committee will be implemented for the 2016-2017 school year.
The State Board of Education must hold at least three public hearings when it develops, evaluates, modifies, or revises either academic performance or learning standards. The hearings must provide an opportunity to receive public testimony and must be held within 30 days of the convened work groups; six months after the first hearing; and when the work groups submit the developed academic performance standards to the state board.
House Bill 1490 still allows individual school districts and charter schools to adopt their own standards, as long as they do not conflict with state standards. Most important, this legislation allows parents to still have an active role in their children’s education, and it allows educators and parents alike to have a voice in the standards in which their children will be expected to rise. We must allow and continue to work to make sure parents and educators are the ones crafting standards by which our children learn.
Upon voter approval of Senate Joint Resolution 36, an amendment would be added to the Missouri Constitution reinforcing the right of citizens to keep and bear arms, ammunition and accessories in defense of their family, in addition to the current rights to protect a person’s home, property or themselves. The amendment would also make these rights inalienable, and obligate Missouri to uphold these liberties. Senate Joint Resolution 36 has been placed on the August ballot.
As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol, however, during interim I may be in the district. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.

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