Greetings Friends of the 144th!
I hope everyone had a wonderful week. I have battled illness all week, which is no fun with the hectic schedule we have here at the Capitol. I am happy to say that I think I am on the uphill side of it. This is the time of year when we need to remember to check on our senior family members and neighbors. They do not always reach out when they are not feeling well, and their health can decline rapidly if not properly attended to.
This week, Janey Radford from Washington County and Vicki Norris from Piedmont came to the Capitol to testify on my House Bill 2121. This bill puts specific guidelines in place for which the Department of Revenue should use when issuing an RFP for license fee offices. As you may recall both Wayne and Washington Counties lost their bids to an outside company. Both counties are currently going through the appeals process. I have worked closely with several legislators to make sure the language in this bill will provide a fair process, and not be bias towards large outside companies. I look for this bill to be voted on next week.
House Approves Bill to Require Victim Impact Program for DWI Offenders (HB 1488)
A bill now headed to the Senate would require a person who is guilty of driving while intoxicated to complete a victim impact program approved by the court.
A victim impact panel is made up of speakers who have either been seriously injured by an impaired driver or have a loved one who was seriously injured or killed by a drunk driver. Members of the panel share their stories with offenders who attend as part of their court sentence.
Victim impact programs currently exist in Missouri and many judges already require offenders to participate in them. The legislation approved by the House would ensure that every judge sends offenders to the victim impact programs by making them a mandatory consequence for drunk or impaired driving offenses.
By placing offenders face-to-face with people whose lives have been permanently changed by a substance-impaired driver. Victim impact panels provide offenders with the understanding that drunk driving is a choice that impacts the lives of innocent people and is 100 percent preventable. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
Missouri House Approves Kratom Consumer
Protection Act (HB 2061)
House members have approved legislation to regulate the sale of an herbal supplement known as kratom. The bill would establish the Kratom Consumer Protection Act to create a simple regulatory framework for the consumption and sale of the supplement.
Kratom is an herbal extract that comes from the leaves of an evergreen tree grown in Southeast Asia. Those who use the substance say it offers relief from pain, depression, and anxiety. Some also use it as a tool to combat addiction to opioid medications. Consumption of a large amount of kratom can be harmful, especially if it is mixed with another product, so it is important to ensure consumption of the product is at a safe level.
The Kratom Consumer Protection Act would require dealers who prepare, distribute, sell, or expose for sale a food that is represented to be a kratom product to disclose on the product label the basis on which this representation is made. A dealer would be prohibited from preparing, distributing, selling, or exposing for sale a kratom product that does not conform to these labeling requirements. Dealers would also be prohibited from preparing or selling a kratom product that has been adulterated or contaminated with a dangerous non-kratom substance. Additionally, the act would prohibit dealers from selling kratom products to anyone under the age of 18.
The bill now heads to the Senate for discussion.
House Gives First-Round Approval to Bill to Legalize Needle Exchange Programs (HB 1486)
The Missouri House gave initial approval to legislation that would allow the continued operation of programs that offer clean needles to drug abusers.
The programs aim to get drug users into treatment by introducing them to medical professionals who can consult with them while providing them clean needles. They also fight the spread of diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C, which are often transmitted through the use of dirty needles.
The sponsor of the bill said such programs operate in Missouri now, including one in St. Louis County and one that has been operating for decades in Kansas City, but they are technically in violation of state laws against distributing drug paraphernalia.
The sponsor and other proponents of the programs say their ability to combat the spread of diseases is particularly important now. Missouri is on the verge of a crisis in the spread of HIV and Hepatitis-C, mostly among drug users who are sharing needles.
“Right now in Missouri we have 13 counties on the CDC’s top five percent watch list … across the U.S. of counties that are on the verge or at risk of Hep C and/or HIV outbreaks,” she said.
The proposed change would cost Missouri nothing as these programs are privately funded. The legislation could actually save the state some of the cost it has expended on the treatment of drug abusers. The bill requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate.
Bills Sent to the Senate
HB 1933 establishes the “Missouri Local Government Expenditure Database”, to be maintained by the Office of Administration. For each fiscal year beginning on or after December 31, 2022, the database must include extensive information about a given municipality’s or county’s expenditures and the vendors to whom payments were made. The database must be accessible by the public without charge and have multiple ways to search and filter the information. Supporters say the bill will provide public access to local government expenditure data, thereby increasing transparency. The Office of Administration will provide a template so political subdivisions can easily send information. It will save time and money currently expended on open record requests.
HB 1317 requires school districts and charter schools to establish a state-approved gifted program if 3% or more of the students are determined to be gifted by July 1, 2022. The bill also prevents any public school district or charter school from prohibiting a parent or guardian from recording any meeting held under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Currently gifted programs are not mandated and the number of districts that offer these programs have decreased. Gifted services are as important as any other special needs and by requiring these programs in districts it will ensure that gifted students will receive educational opportunities. College students currently receive very little training or education on gifted pupil needs, this bill will ensure that any teacher that provides instruction for gifted programs has additional training.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-2112.
Chris Dinkins is the area’s state representative for the 144th Legislative District. She can be reached by email – Chris.Dinkins@house.mo.gov or by telephone: 573-751-2112.