This is an editorial: An editorial, like news reporting, is based on objective facts, but shares an opinion. The conclusions and opinions here have been derived by the guest contributor and are not associated with the news staff.
Coleman’s Legislation Update:
This week I filed HB 1066 regarding tattooing/micro blading. Women and men are going to individuals to permanently tattoo/micro blade their eyebrows. This procedure is increasing in popularity; and more and more people are walking away with unpleasant results. This bill if passed would require the individuals that are performing this procedure to uphold the same requirements and penalties as a tattoo artist. Please find below a link with further details regarding nation and state-wide guidelines.
Furthermore this week my HB 454 regarding increase charges on sexual offenses involving a minor was heard in Children and Families Committee. This bill increases the age of the minors that are victims of grooming, enticement, and prostitution, this will mirror the federal government guidelines. It also increases the charges/penalties of the perpetrators luring our children away from their families.
Missouri House Approves Vital Public Safety Legislation (HB 301)
House Speaker Dean Plocher and the members of the Missouri House of Representatives took an important step this week to provide assistance to areas of the state plagued by violent crime. The House approved HB 301 by a vote of 109-35.
It was during his Opening Day Address that Speaker Plocher told his colleagues they “cannot be bystanders as unchecked crime causes the systematic destruction of our proud state.” He called on House members to make it a priority to enact common sense reforms and provide the resources necessary to protect every Missouri community. Plocher said HB 301 represents a good faith effort by the legislature to provide assistance to areas of the state such as St. Louis where violent crime has run rampant.
“As someone who is from St. Louis and who cares deeply about the families and businesses who call our part of the state home, I want to do everything we can to ensure we have safe communities where kids live without fear and criminals know they will be prosecuted for their violent actions,” said Plocher. “However, with hundreds of murders each year and thousands of unprosecuted criminal cases, we see a St. Louis that is anything but safe and that drives people and employers away from our area. I’m confident HB 301 can give us an important tool to restore law and order to St. Louis or any part of our state where violent crime has grown out of control.”
HB 301 is a wide-ranging public safety bill that includes a key provision that would allow the governor to appoint a special prosecutor in areas of the state with an excessive homicide rate. The bill specifies the governor would be empowered to appoint a prosecutor in any circuit or prosecuting attorney’s jurisdiction that has a homicide rate in excess of 35 cases per 100,000 people and where the governor determines there is a threat to public safety and health. The special prosecutor would be appointed for a period of up to five years.
The sponsor of HB 301, who previously served as director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said it’s important that the state act to help with the problem of violent crime in St. Louis or in any part of the state.
“Crime in our state, and across the nation, is a concern but particularly in our urban areas where at this point at least one of our communities has a per capita crime rate that more than doubles the per capita crime rate of Chicago,” said the bill sponsor. “I’ve been told that I shouldn’t be meddling in this community’s business, but I would submit to you and anyone else who wants to listen, I am not a meddler. I’m not an outsider. I’m a Missourian. In the past five years 1,043 Missourians have died in the city limits of St. Louis. That is not acceptable. It would not matter where in this state such a thing occurred, it would still not be acceptable.”
HB 301 specifies that the prosecutor appointed by the governor would have exclusive jurisdiction to initiate and prosecute offenses specified in the bill. The state will provide funding to the special prosecutor, who would be authorized to hire up to 15 assistant special prosecuting attorneys and up to 15 staff members.
HB 301 also contains several other provisions designed to improve public safety in Missouri. The bill would establish the Peace Officer Basic Training Tuition Reimbursement Program to help address the shortage of police officers in some parts of the state. The bill would also ensure the Department of Corrections to implement a policy to help offenders apply for Medicaid and obtain vital documents such as a birth certificate or Social Security card. Additionally, the legislation establishes factors for a judge or judicial officer to consider when setting bail, includes protections for a judicial officer’s personal information, and creates Blair’s Law.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
House Approves Bill to Allow Direct Access to Physical Therapy (HBs 115 & 99)
Lawmakers gave strong bipartisan approval this week to legislation that would allow patients to have direct access to physical therapy. The Missouri House approved HBs 115 & 99 by a vote of 147-1.
The sponsor of the bill noted that 47 states currently allow some form of direct access to physical therapy. She pointed out that studies show patients with direct access have fewer visits and less overall cost.
“Direct access is about individual choice in health care decisions through the elimination of unnecessary and burdensome regulations,” said the bill’s sponsor. She added, “Allowing individuals to make their own decisions regarding their own health care is really great policy, and eliminating the referral requirements is one step to making health care more accessible to all people.”
Under HBs 115 & 99 a physical therapist would no longer need a prescription or referral from a doctor in order to evaluate and initiate treatment on a patient. To qualify, the physical therapist would need a Doctorate of Physical Therapy Degree or five years of clinical practice as a physical therapist.
The bill also states the physical therapist must refer to an approved health care provider any patient whose condition is beyond the physical therapist's scope of practice, or any patient who does not demonstrate measurable or functional improvement after 10 visits or 30 days, whichever occurs first.
The bill’s sponsor said, “Physical therapists are qualified to recognize when a patient presents with signs and symptoms outside the scope of their practice and their expertise, and they will always refer to a physician if that’s the case.”
Additionally, the bill requires the physical therapist to consult with an approved health care provider before continuing therapy if after 10 visits or 30 business days, whichever occurs first, the patient has demonstrated measurable or functional improvement from the physical therapy and the physical therapist believes that continuation of physical therapy is necessary. Continued physical therapy must be in accordance with any direction of the health care provider and the therapist must notify the health care provider of continuing physical therapy every 30 days.
Similar measures have received House approval in recent years, but have failed to make their way into law. The bill’s sponsor is optimistic her bill will make it through both chambers and to the governor’s desk this year.
She said, “I think we should make Missouri competitive with our neighboring states and allow our constituents the opportunity to seek the health care that they desire and in the meantime save money and get their lives back free of pain.”
She added, “There is no reason why Missouri should be the most restrictive state in the nation for patients to be able to see physical therapists.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Missouri House Approves Supplemental Budget Bill (HB 14)
This week the members of the Missouri House approved a supplemental spending bill that will allocate additional funds for the current state operating budget. The House gave initial approval to the bill by a vote of 148-2.
In total, the bill allocates more than $627 million in funding. Some of the highlights of the supplementing spending plan include:
The bill now requires a final vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
Lawmakers Receive the Annual State of the Judiciary Address
Members from the House and Senate gathered in the House Chamber this week to receive the annual State of the Judiciary Address. Delivered by Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Paul C. Wilson, the address focused on the importance of preserving public trust in the judicial branch, the essential role technology plays in making courts open and accessible, the success of treatment courts, and the impact of the growing mental health crisis.
Wilson asked legislators to help make the public understand and trust the judicial system. Wilson said, “I doubt you agree with every decision the seven of us make, let alone the hundreds of thousands of decisions made every year by trial judges all around this state. I know I don’t. So, if you want to tell your constituents you think we got it wrong, that’s your right. But when you do, take a minute to explain that – even when you think we got it wrong – you know judges are just public servants like you; doing their best to decide cases based on the facts and their best understanding of the law … because I promise you that’s true.”
Wilson also stressed the importance of the technology and automation steps Missouri courts have taken to be more open and accessible. Wilson said, “These innovations have not only revolutionized how we work, they’ve fundamentally changed how Missourians interact with their court system.” He highlighted the eJuror system as well as the fact most traffic cases can be resolved online. Wilson also mentioned how remote video appearances are now a permanent, indispensable part of the judicial landscape. Wilson urged lawmakers to renew a filing fee that helps fund court automation.
During his address, Wilson also focused his comments on the positive impact treatment courts have had on defendants with mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. Wilson said, “Each treatment court success story means a prison term or a life altering felony conviction avoided. It means strengthening our communities by helping one person at a time break the cycle of addiction before it lands them in prison. But even more important, every one of these success stories means a family restored, not shattered; a constructive life returned to society, not lost to incarceration; and – so many times – it means a parent who is there to play a meaningful role in their children’s lives, not someone those kids see through a piece of plexiglass only once a month, if at all.”
Wilson also noted the courts are finding themselves on the front lines of a growing mental health crisis. He said, “Too often, we are confronted with individuals manifesting mental health conditions so profound they are not even competent to stand trial.” He asked lawmakers to support the recommendation of the Missouri Justice Reinvestment Initiative to strengthen efforts to bring competency restoration services to the defendants where they are. He also asked legislators to consider passing legislation aimed at protecting judges’ private information.
Please let me know If you have other concerns and suggestions. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally, please call my office at 573-751-1487, or email my office at email@example.com.