We are officially a month into the 2022 legislative session. In addition to the eight bills I have already filed, I decided to file two more pieces of legislation: HB 2615 and HB 2616. HB 2615 seeks to prohibit both mask mandates and Covid 19 vaccination mandates in public schools. HB 2616 will raise the criminal charges associated with a patronizing prostitution and raising the age from 15 to 18 which is already reflected in federal law.
I am also co-sponsoring some new bills: HB 1713 and HB 1637. HB 1713 is being sponsored by Representative Alex Riley and establishes the "Missouri Religious Freedom Protection Act". It provides that no public official may issue an order that limits or prohibits a religious group or place of worship from holding religious services or meetings. HB 1713 has already been voted out of the Judiciary Committee and has been assigned to the Rules Committee where it should be heard in the upcoming weeks. The second bill I am co-sponsoring is HB 1637 sponsored by Representative Adam Schwadron. If passed, HB 1637 would establish the offense of mail theft and is an effort to combat porch piracy by putting in place charges and fines.
Legislature Halts Activity Due to Winter Storm
Out of an abundance of caution due to the impending winter storm, the members of the Missouri General Assembly briefly paused their legislative activities for the week. Lawmakers held session and participated in public hearings Monday and Tuesday, but canceled scheduled floor sessions and hearings for Wednesday and Thursday. House leadership made the decision with the goal of keeping members and staff safe, as well as to ensure the safety of the many members of the public who travel to the Capitol to attend hearings. The House will return on Sunday, February 6 for a technical session and then will return to its normal schedule on Monday, February 7.
Missouri House Approves Kratom Consumer Protection Act (HB 1667)
The Missouri House has once again approved legislation meant to ensure the substance known as kratom can be safely purchased and used by adults in Missouri. Known as the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, the bill would create a regulatory framework to protect Missourians from kratom products that have been adulterated or contaminated with dangerous substances. The bill also would prevent the substance from being sold to those under the age of 18.
Kratom is an herbal extract that comes from the leaves of an evergreen tree in Southeast Asia. It is often marketed as an energy booster, pain reliever, and even as an antidote for opioid withdrawal. Kratom is legal in Missouri and currently is not addressed in Missouri law.
The bill’s sponsor said the Kratom Consumer Protection Act is necessary because some versions of the product have been inappropriately labeled and contaminated with other substances.
“There are bad actors in the marketplace that have taken kratom and have mixed it with other dangerous substances and packaged and sold it across Missouri, and that has caused problems,” said the sponsor.
The Kratom Consumer Protection Act would ensure kratom products are labeled accurately, and would prohibit dealers from selling kratom products that are contaminated with a dangerous non-kratom substance. The bill also states that dealers will not sell kratom products to anyone under the age of 18.
The bill now requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration. The House approved similar legislation last year, but the bill failed to secure passage in the Senate before the legislative session ended.
House Approves Bill to Improve Opioid Addiction Treatment and Prevention Services (HB 2162)
The General Assembly would have greater flexibility when appropriating funds to fight opioid addiction thanks to a piece of legislation now on its way to the Senate. House members approved HB 2162 to expand access to the Opioid Addiction Treatment and Recovery Fund to pay for opioid addiction treatment and prevention services.
The fund was originally created in anticipation of a settlement with opioid distributors. In July of 2021, the Missouri Attorney General announced the state had reached a settlement with Johnson & Johnson and multiple opioid distributors. If all municipalities in Missouri sign onto the proposed settlement, the state will receive just over half a billion dollars. These funds would be used for addiction treatment, recovery, and intervention programs.
The legislation approved this week modifies the Opioid Addiction Treatment and Recovery Fund so the legislature can allocate funds to all of the state departments and agencies that play a role in providing addiction treatment. Right now the General Assembly has the authority to appropriate the funds to the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Health and Senior Services, and the Department of Social Services. The legislation adds to that list the Department of Corrections, the Judiciary, and the Office of Administration.
The bill’s sponsor said, “We just want to make sure these funds are able to be utilized in the most appropriate way possible to help combat the effects of opioid misuse and abuse, which unfortunately we continue to see in our state and around the country. We hope that this will make a difference to that end for Missourians.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
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.