Representative Karla Eslinger Legislative Report

Hello Friends,

This week the capitol report provides more information regarding two bills that were approved just prior to heading home for Spring Break.  

During this past week, I met with the Douglas County Community Health Assistance Resources Team and Interagency Council (CHART).  We had a great meeting discussing recent legislation and possible impact for the community.  I appreciate the opportunity to bring so many agency voices to the table.  

I also met with MoDOT engineers and was provided the opportunity to join them at the J Highway bridge and see first-hand the need for the new bridge at Lick Creek.  We also discussed plans to improve Tecumseh hill.  The engineers will be providing more specific information in the near future.  Due to Governor Parson’s focus on infrastructure we will be seeing several improvements throughout our district.  

House Approves Tougher License Revocation Laws for Those Who Hit Workers, Emergency Responders (HB 499) 

This legislation will allow the Department of Revenue to revoke the license of a driver who hits a road or utility worker in a highway work zone, or an emergency responder at the scene of an emergency.

The legislation was written in response to the death of a highway worker nearly three years ago. The man who struck and killed Lyndon Ebker in a work zone near New Haven was later revealed to suffer from macular degeneration that impaired his eyesight, but he was still driving more than two years later. Ebker’s family and the Department of Transportation pushed for the legislation. Lawmakers heard that the workers who’d been on Ebker’s crew felt unsafe because they knew the man who’d killed him was still on the road.

One of the supporters of the bill said it’s important to, “let Missourians know that when you get to a work zone you need to slow down. You need to pay attention and be extra cautious.”

Under the bill an officer investigating a work zone or emergency zone accident in which a worker or emergency responder was hit can file a report to the Department.  The director will revoke a driver’s license if he finds, based on that report, that the driver was at fault. The driver then will have 15 days to prove competency by retaking and passing the driver’s test or by appealing to courts local to where the accident happened.  If the court finds the driver was involved in hitting a worker; the work or emergency zone was properly marked; and the investigating officer found probable cause that the driver was at fault, the license revocation would stand.

The legislation was sent from the full chamber back to a House Rules committee for more work after some legislators raised concerns that earlier versions of it would deny a person of due process.  The bill sponsor said the changes made in committee address the concerns raised by his colleagues.

The sponsor said, “We added some language in there that states whether the investigator had probable cause to believe the person’s negligent acts or omissions contributed to his or her vehicle striking that individual.”

The bill is now under consideration in the Senate.

House Passes Bill to Require Veterans Courts in All Jurisdictions in Missouri (HB 547)

Another bill approved before the break would require every circuit court in the State of Missouri to have at least one veterans treatment court in its jurisdiction.

Treatment courts utilize an intensive program of court supervision, drug or alcohol testing, and rehabilitation to help defendants overcome substance abuse, mental, emotional, or behavioral issues and keep them from re-offending. Veterans treatment courts specifically focus on those who have served or currently serve in the military. Many of their needs, including drug testing, utilize the Veterans Administration’s services.

House Bill 547 would require every circuit court in the state to establish a treatment court division.  For courts in which resources are not available for a veterans court, it would allow defendants who are veterans to have their cases transferred to any court in the circuit.

The sponsor of the bill, who served in the Army as a Green Beret, said “When a soldier, a sailor, a marine, or an airman goes into battle that experience changes who they are, and many of them come out of that experience and that situation different people.  They make decisions they very well would not have made prior to going on the battlefield.  Many turn to alcohol or drugs and because of those choices they can find themselves on the wrong side of the law.”

He added, “The veterans treatment courts throughout the state will give these men and women an opportunity to clear their names, to get a clean record, and give them a second chance at life, but more importantly it will show them that we have not given up on them.”

The bill specifies that veterans who have been in combat would be given preference by courts in determining whether to have their cases handled by a veterans court.  That provision was by a lawmaker who is a retired Naval Officer and decorated combat veteran.

In adding the provision, he said, “Let’s face it.  Men were never meant to kill men. Every individual that goes into combat is changed psychologically.  They are never the same again, and the part that’s hard about this is the assimilation when we come back home.  For those that haven’t been in combat they don’t understand, coming into a room like this is not the same.  We’re forever changed. Some can cope and some cannot.”

The legislation would give courts until August 28, 2021 to establish a treatment court division.  The bill is now in the Senate. 

As always, I love to hear from folks at home.  Please don’t hesitate to let me know how I may be of service.  Thank you for the honor of representing the great 155th District.  

Please contact me at:  201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 400CB, Jefferson City, MO  65101-6806; Phone:  573-751-2042; email: karla.eslinger@house.mo.gov