Representative Karla Eslinger’s Legislative Report

Hello Friends, 

It has been a very busy week at the Capitol. Tuesday evening’s Women Legislator’s fund-raising event was a huge success as we raised enough to double the scholarship from the $500 to $1,000 per congressional district.  I encourage our high school educators to share information about this great opportunity. Please use this link to access the scholarship application and additional information https://myscholarshipcentral.org. 

We perfected seven bills and sent eight bills to the Senate for consideration.  The following is a summary of three bills moving on to the Senate. For a complete listing of this week’s legislation please go to https://house.mo.gov/Session.aspx.

House Members Approve the Pro-Life Legislation (HB 126)

The bill would prohibit physicians from performing an abortion after a fetal heartbeat or brain function is detected, which is typically around 6-8 weeks gestational age. Because similar provisions have been struck down in other states, the bill contains additional clauses to protect the lives of the unborn. Should the fetal heartbeat requirement not stand, Missouri law would prohibit all abortions past 14 weeks gestational age. If that provision doesn’t stand, the bill would implement a “Pain-Capable” standard that would prohibit abortions past 18 weeks gestational age. The comprehensive ban on abortion would go into effect if the Supreme Court Over-Turns Roe v. Wade, or if changes are made at the federal level to empower states to further regulate abortion. The only exception to the abortion ban would be in the case of a medical emergency.

The sponsor of the bill told his colleagues that Missouri is not like states such as New York and Virginia, which have loosened restrictions on late-term abortions. He said, “We’re not for late-term abortions. We’re not for unrestricted abortions. I think here in Missouri we know that life is precious. We know that we want to give women, men, and young people the choice; the choice to live.”

House Approves Legislation to Curb Opioid Epidemic (HB 239)

House members came together in bipartisan fashion this week to approve legislation that would make it a felony to possess or distribute the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl and certain date-rape drugs.

The measure would make it a first- or second-degree felony to possess or traffic fentanyl — which can be up to 50 times more powerful than heroin — and derivatives such as the even more powerful carfentanil. Penalties range from three years to life in prison, depending on the amount of the drug. The legislation would not apply to people with prescriptions for fentanyl.

According to data from Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, more than 950 people died of opioid overdoses in 2017 in Missouri. Fentanyl is particularly dangerous because the equivalent of four grains of salt could kill someone. Abuse of fentanyl has steadily increased between 2013 and 2017, and doctors have said many people are being treated in emergency rooms because they took heroin mixed with fentanyl.

I agree with the sponsor’s comments, “The opioid epidemic has been something that has plagued every town (and) every city across this state and across our nation. We’re finding ways to combat the opioid epidemic and the very powerful drug of fentanyl.”

Supporters note that fentanyl traffickers have been prosecuted under current laws because the drug is often mixed with other opioids, such as heroin. They say it’s important to add fentanyl to the state’s drug trafficking laws because it’s now being sold on its own. That’s left a loophole for distributors selling pure fentanyl to lower-level drug traffickers, who then can mix it with other drugs and sell it to individuals.

The legislation also would make it a felony to possess or traffic the date-rape drugs GHB and the drug commonly known as Rohypnol. The sponsor of the provision told her colleagues, “If we’re going to take a hard stance on human trafficking it needs to include these substances.”

Fast-Track Legislation Heads to Senate (HB 225)

The Fast-Track legislation that I mentioned in an earlier report is now headed to the Senate.   This legislation is meant to put thousands of Missourians on a fast track to develop the skills they need to obtain good-paying jobs. The bill would create a new state financial aid program to address workforce needs by encouraging adults to pursue an industry-recognized credential in an area designated as high need.

The bill sponsor noted that Missouri has the seventh most diversified economy and ranks among the top 10 states in high school graduation rates, but lags in postsecondary degree or credential attainment.  She noted that around 755,000 Missourians have some college experience but no degree, meaning there are thousands of individuals who could take advantage of the innovative Fast-Track program.

The goal of Fast-Track is to provide community colleges, tech schools, and universities with the means to equip students for the high-paying, high-demand jobs of the future. It is designed to open up higher education opportunities for hard-working, middle-class families looking for a boost to pursue their dreams. It is also meant to help Missouri businesses find workers with the training needed to fill their workforce demands.  

Before receiving final approval from the House, members approved an amendment to place a three-year sunset on the program. The program could be reauthorized by the legislature.

As always it is so nice when friends from home visit the capitol.  This week Tali Rose stopped in for Advocacy Day with the National Association of Social Workers.  I am sure her parents, Randy and Paula are super proud of their professional, articulate and dedicated daughter. Tali is such a joy! 

 Thank you for the privilege to be of service – it is an honor to serve the 155th District. 

Karla Eslinger  

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