Legislative Update - Feb. 12, 2021
Even without any overnight filibusters in the Senate, both chambers were very active this week (2/8 – 2/12/2021).
SENATE COMMITTEE ACTIONS
The Senate Committee on the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence met on Monday, February 8th. The Committee heard the following bills:
SB 3 – Senator Dan Hegeman (R – Cosby)
SB 3 changes the statute of limitation for bringing a personal injury claim from within five years from the time the injury occurred to within two years. The bill would amend section 516.120, RSMo, by removing the language in subsection (4) – “or for any other injury to the person or rights of another, not arising on contract and not herein otherwise enumerated” for which a personal injury claim must be brought within five years of the injury. Then, the bill would amend section 516.140 by adding that language under the requirement for which a personal injury claim must be brought within two years.
Rich Aubuchon (Missouri Civil Justice Reform Coalition and American Property Casualty Insurance Association) testified in support of the bill, stating that it will not decrease an individual’s ability to file a claim, just lessen the time. In Missouri, he has found that most individuals file claims within three years. Dana Frese (Healthcare Services Group, Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers, and Missouri Hospital Association) testified in support, noting that (1) five years is fundamentally unfair to the defendant because evidence can become stale over time; (2) the five-year statute of limitations puts Missouri at a disadvantage in comparison with the surrounding states; and (3) lengthier statutes of limitations mean insurance claims remain open longer, causing the insurance premium to increase. Michael Henderson (MO Insurance Coalition) testified in support and stated that his members would like to see under- and uninsured motorist claims included in this bill. Also testifying in support were Brad Jones (NFIB), Jorgen Schlemeier (American Tort Reform Association), Ray McCarty (Associated Industries of MO), David Overfelt (Missouri Grocers Association, Missouri Tire Industry Association, and Missouri Retailers Association), the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Heath Clarkston (U.S. Chamber and Kum & Go Convenience Stores), and Michael Gibbons (Bayer U.S. and Enterprise Leasing).
On behalf of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Mark Moreland spoke in opposition. According to his testimony, some cases take longer. Attorneys incur costs at the outset of a case, so they wouldn’t engage in a suit unless a client has a legitimate claim, which requires investigation and can take time. If there is an erosion of evidence, the burden of proof would rest on the plaintiff. Cases should be heard on their merits and jurors should decide. Adoption of the shorter statute of limitations takes the decision away from jurors by never letting a case get to court. He noted that, in Missouri, a creditor has ten years to pursue a debtor. Arnie Dienoff electronically submitted a Witness Form in opposition.
SB 171 – Senator Bill White (R – Joplin)
SB 171 would amend section 537.067, RSMo, regarding tort actions for damages, stating that, when a non-party is at fault a defendant or third party defendant can assert an affirmative defense, the non-party is responsible for an attributable percentage of the damages in the tort action. The affirmative defense can be raised by the defendant parties at any time before trial. This is the “empty chair” defense.
Dana Frese (MO Organization of Defense Lawyers and MO Hospital Association) testified in support of the bill. He noted that a jury to make a comparative fault analysis if one is settled out, then they are no longer a party to the case. He argued that one should not be able to make a deep pocket pay more than its proportionate share. Fairness dictates the fault of all parties be allocated among all parties involved in an accident whether sued by a plaintiff or not. Further, if there is a settlement, the jury cannot hear the amount of that settlement. the judge after the jury returns the judge applies the amount of the settlement, the jury never knows. Also testifying in support were the Missouri State Medical Association (Heidi Sutherland), the Missouri Railroad Association (Bill Gamble), Associated Industries of MO, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the MO Retailers Association (David Overfelt) and Rich Aubuchon (MO Civil Justice Reform Coalition, American Property Casualty Insurance Association and Burlington Northern – Santa Fe Railroad).
On behalf of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Mark Moreland testified in opposition, stating that defendants can bring in parties who are not present. If a plaintiff settles with a match thrower, the person who spilled the gasoline can say it was the match thrower who was at fault and the jury can take that into account, even though it could not allocate fault to the match thrower. The jury considers what it takes to make the injured party whole.
In executive session, the committee voted on the following bills:
The Senate Committee on Seniors, Families, Veterans & Military Affairs met Wednesday, February 10 and conducted a public hearing on the following:
SB 327 – Senator Andrew Koenig (R – Manchester)
In introducing the bill, Senator Koenig stated that kids are left in the foster care system for too long and adoption cases are difficult to adjudicate. The purpose of this bill would be to make the standards for adoption clear and consolidate oversight of the process with the Children’s Division. The bill would:
Modify section 211.477, RSMo, to define an abandoned infant or abandoned child for termination of parental rights, to mean a child three years of age or under. The grounds for determining abandonment are changed to a parent willfully, substantially, and continuously neglecting to provide the child with necessary care and protection for a period of 60 days immediately prior to the filing of the petition to terminate parental rights.
Amend section 211.477 to add prostitution and offenses against the family to sexual offenses and pornography to the felony offenses for which parental rights may be terminated if the parent has been found guilty when the child or any child was a victim. The amended section would also provide a parent is presumed unfit if the child has been under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court for at least fifteen of the twenty-two months prior to the filing of the petition. It modifies the circumstances under which a juvenile officer or Children's Division has the discretion to file a petition to terminate parental rights, changing determination of "abandoned" to mirror changes made under the provisions for mandatory termination of parental right proceedings.
Modify sections 453.014, 453.030, and 453.070 to grant the authority for placing a child for adoption and attending to the adoption process to the Children's Division, rather than the Departments of Social Services and Health and Senior Services.
Amend section 453.030 by repealing the requirement that prospective adoptive parents or the child-placing agency pay the reasonable attorney fees of the birth parent throughout the adoption process, while retaining the birth parent’s guarantee of the right to legal representation. It would also repeal the court’s ability to appoint an attorney to represent the birth parent in cases of financial hardship.
Amend section 453.040 to modify the circumstances in which a parent's consent to adoption is not required to reflect the changes made to identifying “abandoned” children.
Caitlin Whaley (Department of Social Services) testified in support of the bill, stating that the legislation was supported by the governor, who wants to improve the state’s adoption process. The language brings clarity to an ambiguity in the law that results in differing interpretations in the circuits. Scott Penman (FosterAdopt Connect) also testified in support saying adoption of the bill would provide needed steps to help families move more quickly. No one else spoke in support or opposition. However, Chris Brown and Arnie Dienoff electronically provided Witness Forms in opposition.
HOUSE COMMITTEE ACTIONS
The House Committee on Crime Prevention, met Monday February 8th, and considered the following:
HB 292 – Rep. Lane Roberts (R – Joplin)
HB 292 would amend section 455.010, RSMo, to re-define “course of conduct” within the definition of “stalking,” as used in Chapter 455, to mean two or more acts including acts in which the stalker directly, indirectly, or through a third party follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about a person by any action, method, or device. The bill would update the statute to reflect advances in technology.
Janis Thompson Girke and Lisa Saylor, both domestic abuse survivors, testified in favor of the bill. They stressed the need to move quickly escape their abusers and protect their children. Both asked legislators to join their fight and to give them the tools and assist with setting up roadblocks to help them stay alive. Jennifer Docker (Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence) submitted a Witness Appearance Form in support of the bill. Tony Dugger submitted a Witness Appearance Form in opposition to the bill on behalf of the Missouri Pet Breeders Association. No one testified in opposition at the hearing.
HB 276 – Rep. Tom Hannegan (R – St. Charles)
HB 276 would add section 579.750, RSMo, establishing the Missouri Animal Abuse Registy and requiring that it be publicly accessible on the Highway Patrol website. The registry would include the name and photograph of any person convicted of an animal abuse offense, such as:
(a) Animal abuse under section 578.012;
(b) Dogfighting under section 578.025 if the person's act constitutes a felony;
(c) Bullbaiting or cockfighting under section 578.050; or
(d) Sex with an animal under section 566.111.
The bill would also require all circuit court clerks to forward a copy of the judgment and offender’s date of birth to the Highway Patrol within sixty days of a judgment. The Highway Patrol would be required to keep an offender’s name and identifying information on the registry for two years following a first conviction, and for five years for a second or subsequent convictions. The Highway Patrol currently tracks animal abuse; there are about five incidents per year.
Ashland McArthur Sinclair (Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation) testified in favor. She noted that animal cruelty is a bridge crime, which is why the FBI tracks it. For instance, Son of Sam, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and the Columbine shooters all were cruel to animals before they demonstrated the same cruelty to humans. No one testified in opposition or for informational purposes. Karen Strange, President of the Missouri Federation of Animal Owners, and Tony Dugger (Missouri Pet Breeders Association) submitted Witness Appearance Forms in opposition to the bill.
The House Committee on Public Safety met Tuesday February 9.
The Committee conducted hearings on the following bills in regular session:
HB 290 – Rep. Lane Roberts (R – Joplin)
HB 290 would amend chapter 570 by adding a new section 570.035, providing that a person commits the offense of organized retail theft if s/he commits a series of thefts of retail merchandise against a merchant with the intent to return the merchandise to the merchant, or resell it, for value. The offense would be a class C felony if the aggregated value of all the thefts committed during a 120-day period is at least $1,500 and no more than $10,000 and a class B felony if the aggregated value is $10,000 or more. The bill looks at the aggregate over the 120-day period, rather than individual events. The bill would also requires the court to order anyone that violates this provision to pay restitution. This bill is the same as HB 2563 (2020).
Rep. Roberts stated there would be an amendment to correct using $10,0000 as both the upper limit for a Class C Felony and the lower limit for a Class B Felony.
Jackie Bardgett testified in support of the bill, on behalf of Walgreens. She stated this is not petty theft whereby things are taken for one’s own use, but, for example, a fire is set on one side of the store so the shelves can be cleared on the other side. A group of Missouri retailers has to help law enforcement. David Overfelt (MO Retailers Association) and Jeff Brooks (Walmart) submitted Witness Appearance Forms in support. No one testified in opposition or for informational purposes.
HB 291 – Rep. Lane Roberts (R – Joplin)
HB 291 would amend section 575.080, RSMo, specifying that a person commits the offense of making a false report if, with reckless disregard of causing bodily harm to any person as a direct result of an emergency response (“swatting” – getting an emergency responders team to respond to something that just isn’t true), one (1) knowingly makes a false report, or (2) causes a false report to be made to a law enforcement officer, security officer, fire department or other organization, official, or volunteer.
For falsely reporting a misdemeanor, the offense would be a class B misdemeanor. For falsely reporting a felony, the offense would be a class C felony. The offense would be a class B felony if the report results in death or grievous bodily injury as a proximate result of lawful conduct arising out of the response. If the false report is made by a person under age 18, the first offense would be an infraction. A second or subsequent violation would be a class C misdemeanor. A minor would have three options:
appear before a juvenile court,
complete 30 hours of community service, or
pay a fine not to exceed $250.
The legislation would not impose liability on a person who contacts law enforcement to report unlawful conduct or conflict with the Communication Decency Act or the Civil Rights Act. A victim of the offense could bring a civil action against the person who made the false report and may recover damages or other equitable relief, as well as reasonable attorneys' fees. This bill is the same as HB 2580 (2020).
No one testified in support or opposition to the bill. Dale Schmidt (MO Peace Officers Association), Karen Aroesty (The Anti-Defamation League Heartland), and Mark Bruns (Missouri FOP) submitted Witness Appearance Forms in support of the bill.
In executive session, the committee voted on the following bill:
HB 898 – Do Pass by vote of 9 to 0.
The House Special Committee on Litigation Reform met on Tuesday, February 9th. The committee conducted hearings on the following bills:
HB 519 – Rep. Jeff Knight (R – Lebanon)
HB 519 would amend sections 316.250 and 537.348, RSMo, to specify that no owner of land will be liable for injuries occurring on his or her residential area, if it is adjacent to a park or trail. Residential area is defined as land used predominantly for housing as opposed to industrial and commercial areas. The sponsor indicated he was working on a substitute to address a chapter correction.
Gary Gates (Missouri Park and Recreation Association) testified in support of the bill, indicating the intent is to extend the same liability exemptions that currently exist for adjacent landowners outside corporate boundaries to those who are inside corporate boundaries. Also testifying in support were BJ Tanksley (MO Farm Bureau), Kyna Iman (Conservation Federation of Missouri) and Brent Butler (MO Insurance Coalition. No one testified in opposition to the bill or for informational purposes.
HB 577 – Rep. Alex Riley (R – Springfield)
HB 577 would amend section 490.715, RSMo, by modifying the rule for determining the admissibility of evidence of collateral source payments in civil actions. It would clarify that the section applies only to a party in a plaintiff's case. It further states that no party shall introduce evidence of the amount billed for medical treatment if the amount has been discounted, written-off, or satisfied by payment of an amount less than the amount billed. The sponsor indicated that his intent was to work to ensure plaintiffs are adequately compensated for their injuries but do not unfairly profit from an injury.
Dana Frese (Healthcare Services Group, MO Hospital Association and MO Organization of Defense Lawyer) testified in support of the bill, stating the legislature had intended to achieve this end in 2017, adopting Senate Bill 31. However, in Brancati v, Bi-State Development, 571 S.W. 3d 625 (2018), the court opined that nowhere does state statute limit evidence of medical charges to the amount paid. HB 577 would address this court decision. Rich Aubuchon (MO Civil Justice Reform Coalition, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway Company, American Property Casualty Insurance Association and the Doctors Company), Heidi Geisbuhler Sutherland (MO State Medical Association), the MO Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bill Gamble (Mo Railroad Association, Washington University, and American Tort Reform Association), David Jackson, (MO Society of Anesthesiologists, Signature Medical Group and Ambulatory Surgery Center Association), and Brent Butler (MO Insurance Coalition) also testified in support. Ray McCarty (Associated Industries of Missouri) and Tom Crawford (MO Trucking Association) submitted Witness Appearance Forms in support of the bill.
On behalf of the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Blake Heath testified in opposition to the bill. He testified that it punishes victims who are injured as a result of the conduct of someone else and would give the wrong-doer the benefit of the patient’s contract because the patient can’t show what s/he has suffered. Hospitals set the charges for treatment costs – charges that can drive the patient into bankruptcy. According to Mr. Heath, adoption of the bill would mean that a jury wouldn’t have the opportunity to see all of the information and couldn’t get a full view of what an injured person has been through, as evidenced by the treatment. Scott Penman (Americans for Patient Access) also testified in opposition. Americans for Patient Access (APA) works with providers that care for people who are not insured, and the bill as currently drafted would put APA out of business. No one testified for informational purposes.
HB 782 – Rep. Curtis Trent (R – Springfield)
HB 782 would amend chapter 537, RSMo, to add a new section 537.771, which would specify that, in any civil action for personal injury, death, or property damage caused by a product, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant manufactured, sold, or leased the actual product that caused the injury. The sponsor stated that the bill stands for the proposition that only those who have engaged in manufacturing or distributing a wrongful product should be liable for that product.
Mark Barons (Shook, Hardy & Bacon, D.C. office) spoke in support of the legislation He stated that liability follows profit, and this bill would codify traditional law. It would cut off guilt by association when, for example, someone makes a copycat product. If the state were to allow an erosion of fundamental tort law, innovators would be harmed. Dana Frese (Healthcare Services Group and Missouri Organization of Defense Lawyers) also testified in support, stating it would relieve the need for expensive discovery. Rich Aubuchon (Missouri Justice Reform Coalition), and the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry joined in supporting the bill. David Overfelt (Missouri Retailers Association, Missouri Tire Industry Association, Missouri Grocers Association), Heath Clarkston (U.S. Chamber of Commerce), Mark Behrens (American Tort Reform Association), and Ray McCarty (Associated Industries of Missouri) submitted Witness Appearance Forms in support of the bill.
Benjamin Mook, representing the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, testified in opposition to the bill, stating that the bill addresses a problem that does not exist. However, he did point to what he saw as unintended consequences if the bill to be adopted. For example, there would be no cause of action against Monsanto that makes the seed (soybean) that allows the use of Dicamba, which is harmful to numerous other crops and, thus, put farmers out of business. No one else spoke in opposition to the bill and no one spoke for informational purposes.
In executive session, the committee voted on the following bill:
HB 474 – Do Pass by a vote of 6 to 3.
The House Special Committee on Criminal Justice met on Tuesday, February 9th. It conducted hearings on the following bills:
HB 277 – Rep. Tom Hannegan (R – St. Charles)
HB 277 would amend chapter 217, RSMo, by adding a new section 217.697, relating to parole eligibility. The section would specify that any incarcerated offender sixty-five years or older who
had no prior felony convictions of a violent nature,
was not a convicted sexual offender,
was serving a sentence of life without parole for a minimum of fifty years or more, and
was sentenced under section 565.008, RSMo (first degree murder), for an offense committed prior to October 1, 1984
must receive a parole hearing upon serving thirty years or more of a sentence. The Parole Board would determine whether there is reasonable probability the offender will not violate the law upon release and therefore is eligible for release. Further, any offender so granted parole would be placed on minimum five years supervision by the Division of Probation and Parole.
Jeremy LaFaver (Empower Missouri) testified in support of the bill, as did Linda Jean Schroeder (retired executive director of Project COPE). Christine Woody also submitted written testimony on behalf of Empower Missouri. Others submitting written testimony in support included: Cheryl Adelstein (Jewish Community Relations Council), MO Del Villar (ACLU), Rita Linhardt (MO Catholic Conference) and Individuals: Maureen Flynn-Hart (Church Council Elder, Historic St. Mark Church), Mary Schuman, Matthew Rosene, Michel Bobzinand, and Sneha Chaturvedi. The essence of the testimony in support was that Missouri spends far too much money and resources on locking up individuals for way too long and this would be a good first step for criminal justice reform.
On behalf of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Callaway County assistant prosecutor Ben Miller testified in opposition to the bill. He reinforced there is a need to consider the victim in a case where a loved one has been taken away. Prosecutors have conversation with the person accused of committing the crime and provide them information that when they are charged with a capital offense, here are your range of options. He testified that this bill would reach back in time and harms one can trust in the deal with the prosecutor. It would violate the agreement made with the criminal justice system. Persons submitting written testimony in opposition include Vicky Henry (Women Against Registry) and individuals Michael Tweeter, Michelle Barry, Donna White, and Arnie Dienoff.
Amy Breihan (Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center) provided written testimony for informational purposes. She testified that:
the bill would not result in the release of masses of people from Missouri prisons.
the cost of incarcerating older people is significantly higher than younger ones.
these costs do not result in any significant gains to public safety because this population (incarcerated persons 65 years of age and older) are very low risk to reoffend.
HB 294 – Rep Lane Roberts (R – Joplin)
HB 294 would amend several sections in chapter 304 and 556, while adding a new section 304.003, RSMo. Rather than authorizing arrest warrants for failure to respond, pay the assessed fine, or appear in court with respect to a traffic citation issued for an infraction under chapter 304, this bill would authorize a court to issue a notice of failure to respond, pay the assessed fine, or appear. The bill further provides that no driver's license or driver's license renewal would be issued if the applicant had delinquent fines and unsatisfied fees in connection with the traffic offense. It would also lowered the penalty for certain traffic offenses. Rep. Roberts noted that section 575.180 makes it a crime for a police officer not to serve a warrant. Some agencies don’t know the provision exists; others follow it extremely closely. A traffic offense can make an officer take a person to jail. There are eleven traffic offenses that should remain criminal offenses, and chapter 302 covers most of them.
No one testified in support of, in opposition to, or for informational purposes. The ACLU submitted written testimony in support stating the bill helps to address concerns causing Missourians to be caught up in the criminal justice system for minor infractions. Arnie Dienoff provided a Witness Appearance Form in support of the bill.
In executive session, the committee voted on the following bills:
HB 316 – Do Pass by vote of 10 to 0.
HB 504 – R Do Pass by vote of 10 to 0.
The House Committee on Children and Families met on Wednesday February 10th. The committee held a public hearing on HB 557, sponsored by Rep. Rudy Veit (R – Wardsville), and HB 560, sponsored by Rep. Keri Ingle (D – Lee’s Summit). Because the bills are exactly the same, they were heard together with Rep. Veit and Rep. Ingle presenting the bills concurrently. Currently there are no regulations for residential homes for children eighteen and under if the residential homes are religious. Children live in these homes 24-7-365. There is no state supervision nor state oversight. Neither of the sponsors are against faith-based homes but both were worried that the bad homes will cause the closure of good ones. There are only two states that have a full religious exemption. Missouri is one of them. Rep. Veit said this bill gives access to the children, because until you have access to child it is hard to do anything.
HB 557 and HB 560 would amend chapter 210, RSMo, by adding sixteen new sections. They would add a process by which “child residential homes” are required to notify the Department of Social Services of their existence and compliance with provisions that protect the safety of the children in residence. These include: fire and safety inspections, local health department inspections, medical records for all residents, and information about schools serving the children. It also specifies that the homes must conduct background checks of all employees and volunteers at the home and details the background check findings that will exclude people from working or volunteering in the home. The bill outlines how the Department could petition a court for an order for a home to present a child that is the subject of a child abuse investigation when there are allegations of abuse or neglect in the home. In any case in which a referral is made to a juvenile officer for removal of a child, a referral would also be made to the Attorney General. Failure to comply with these provisions might result in fines, misdemeanor charges for failure to conduct background checks, and potential removal of children. The Department could promulgate necessary rules that include a fee to cover the cost of the notification process, but it would not be permitted to regulate any religious program, curriculum, or ministry.
The following are adult survivors, some in their fifties, of religion-based residential homes who witnessed and/or experienced, first-hand, abuse (sexual, physical and mental) by staff of these homes. They asked the legislature to act now and not let other children go through what they went through. All testified in support of the legislation. Colton Schrag (New Mexico), Emily Adams, Allen Knoll (State of Washington), Nicole Norton (Illinois), David Bowsher, Shelby Thomas Jackson (Texas, a mother who sent her son to one of the homes in Missouri) and Amanda O’Brian Householder (child of a staff member). Thirty-two additional survivors provided written testimony in support of the legislation, and five submitted Witness Appearance Forms in support.
Jessica Seitz (Director of Public Policy for Missouri KidsFirst) also testified in support of the bill, noting that it was long overdue and greatly needed to keep kids safe, since the last time a similar bill was heard in the Capitol was 2002. She did not want another twenty years to go by without having addressed the issue. Numerous other child advocacy groups testified in support of the legislation. Kelly Schultz (Director, Office of Child Advocate) pointed out that the legislation is not licensure, religious organizations are still being exempted from regulation. This is notification and is the bare minimum needed to keep kids safe. Emily Van Schenkhof (Missouri Children’s Trust Fund) stated that, if we want really strong barriers with our laws, this will to move it forward. Marcia Hazelhorst (Missouri Juvenile Justice Association) indicated that these are particularly challenging situations because many times there are reports of punishment that border on child abuse and neglect which are difficult to investigate. She further expressed concern that some of the language of the bill appears to conflict with the Supreme Court’s standards for juvenile justice. She committed to work with the bill sponsors to resolve any potential conflicts. Witness Appearance Forms in support were submitted by Mary Chant (Missouri Coalition of Children’s Agencies) and Miranda Sullivan and Susanna Orah Klein (psychotherapist). No one testified in opposition.
Caitlin Whaley (DSS) testified for informational purposes. In response to members’ questions regarding where the breakdown is when there is a requirement in statute to report abuse, she noted hotlines are confidential in nature and DSS cannot discuss investigations or findings. The breakdown is the culture of restricted access in these types of facilities. DSS cannot see a child and, thus, cannot collect physical evidence that child is harmed. If law enforcement is uncomfortable removing a child from a situation, even though they have a mechanism to do so, then the child remains in the situation.
In executive session, the committee voted on the following bills:
The House Committee on the Judiciary met on Wednesday, February 10th. It held hearings on the following bills:
HB 156 – Rep. Rudy Veit (R – Wardsville)
HB 156 would amend 575.205, RSMo, by adding failing to charge or otherwise disable the electronic monitoring equipment to the offense of tampering with electronic monitoring equipment. It would also specify that the offense of tampering with electronic monitoring equipment when a person fails to charge or otherwise disables the equipment is a class E felony. Rep. Veit said this is really about people on whom ankle bracelets have been placed, pre-trial release, who intentionally failing to charge them.
Judge Jon Beetem testified in support, stating that he used a lot of monitoring with pre-trial release. To keep the program effective, he needs a serious tool that lets criminals know the bracelets are serious. No one testified in opposition or for informational purposes.
HB 160 – Rep. Rudy Veit (R – Wardsville)
HB 160 would amend section 494.455, RSMo, to specify that, except in Greene County, where the pay structure already is set by current law, county commissions could vote to restructure juror compensation so that grand and petit jurors are not paid for the first two days of service but thereafter receive $50 per day. The bill also provides such jurors will be paid $0.07 per mile for necessary travel from the juror's residence to the courthouse and back. The county is responsible for payment. The bill would not establish a pay mandate; it would simply allow the county commission to do what is right for the county. Rep. Veit said he will be filing amendments to address issues that have been brought to his attention.
Judge Jon Beetem testified in support, stating the vast majority of trials are one- or two-day trials. The bill would help in that there are a lot of costs for calling people in to create a panel. The goal is to do anything that is it can be done to make the jury experience good. Patricia Churchill (Judicial Conference of Missouri) also testified in support, indicating that counties could decide if it was a good fit for them. No one testified in opposition or for informational purposes.
HB 218 – Rep. Ingrid Burnett (D – Kansas City)
HB 218 would amend section 211.211, RSMo, to specify that if a child waives his or her right to counsel, the waiver must be made in open court and be recorded, in writing, and made knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily. To make that determination, the court is to look to the totality of the circumstances, including age, intelligence, background, emotional stability, the complexity of the proceedings and the child’s general experience and experience in the court system. The child’s waiver of the right to counsel, only applies to that particular proceeding. A child's right to counsel cannot be waived:
At a detention hearing under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 127.08;
At a certification hearing under section 211.071 or a dismissal hearing under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 129.04;
At an adjudication hearing under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 128.02 for any misdemeanor or felony offense, including the acceptance of an admission;
At a dispositional hearing under Missouri Supreme Court Rule 128.03; or
At a hearing on a motion to modify or revoke supervision under subdivision (2) or (3) of subsection 1 of section 211.031.
Rep. Burnett wants to establish guardrails for children testifying so that they do not make mistakes that could haunt them for the rest of their lives. She said the bill had been supported by The Missouri Bar in the past.
Cathy Rauch (Metropolitan Congregations United) and Christine Woody (Empower Missouri) submitted written testimony in support of the bill. They both pointed to the presumption that age matters in interrogations. Children may not fully understand what is happening and may choose a short-term reward over long-term consequences. No one testified in opposition to the bill. Mary Fox (Missouri State Public Defender) testified for informational purposes. She stated that Public Defenders currently don’t represent children for offenses listed in subsection 2 of 211.031 (status offenders), but do represent them for violation of subsection 3 of 211.031. She indicated that she does not believe children are any longer removed from the home for the matters listed in subsection 2. According to the MSPD’s interpretation of the statute, she does not believe that public defenders represent status offenders.
HB 259 – Rep. David Evans (R – West Plains)
HB 259 would amend section 566.010, RSMo, is amended by adding “causing semen, seminal fluid or other ejaculate to come into contact with another person” to the definition of sexual contact. The bill would also amend section 566.086 by adding a coach, assistant coach, director, or other adult with a school-aged team, club, or ensemble, regardless of whether such team, club, or ensemble is connected to a school or scholastic association to the list of those who can be charged with committing the offense of sexual contact with a student. “School-aged team, club, or ensemble” would mean any group organized for individual or group competition for performing sports activities or any group organized for individual or group presentation for fine or performing arts by any child under eighteen years of age. In one-on-one contact in a situation of trust, such as with a coach, a child should be protected whether the activity is sponsored by a school or private club.
Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Becker testified on behalf of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys in support of the bill. In response to a question asked regarding a definition of “school aged,” Mr. Becker suggested looking at section 566.086 in its entirety – particularly section 566.086.2, “[f]or purposes of this section, ‘school shall mean any public or private school in this state serving kindergarten through grade twelve or any school bus used by the school district.’” Therefore, he said “school aged” would be a K-12 student. No one testified in opposition to the bill.
In executive session, the committee voted on the following bills:
HB 585 – Do Pass by vote of 10 to 0.
Do Pass Consent by vote of 10 to 0.
HCS for HB 69 – Do Pass by vote of 11 to 0.
Rep. Veit offered an amendment regarding the auto industry’s concerns regarding copper being a small component of cars and trucks. The amendment was adopted.
HCS for HB 157 – Do Pass by vote of 10 to 1.
Amendment made the receiving county do the request and claims for reimbursement will be divided pro rata. The amendment was adopted.
HB 530 – Do Pass by vote of 11 to 0.
Amendments are forthcoming and will be taken up on the floor.
HB 531 – Do Pass by vote of 11 to 0.
Requested Do Pass Consent; by vote of 10 to 1 the bill failed to be passed by consent.
The House Committee on Local Government met Thursday, February 11th, and held a public hearing on the following:
HB 678 – Rep. J. Eggleston (R – Maysville)
When presenting the bill, the sponsor indicated that the genesis for this bill had been a disagreement between who was in charge of the courthouse. There were conflicting statutes, and this bill would clarify the conflict. The bill would amend sections 49.310 and 476.083, RSMo, to provide that in any courthouse containing both a county office and a courtroom, the presiding circuit, associate, or municipal judge may establish rules for courtrooms, jury rooms, and chambers or offices of the court, but the county commission would have authority over all other areas of the courthouse. The legislation would also amend section 476.083 to provide that a circuit court marshal can be appointed to aid the presiding judge by overseeing the physical security of the courtrooms, jury room, and chambers or offices of the courts, as opposed to the entire courthouse.
Kyle Carol, Presiding Commissioner, and Chet Owen, Eastern District Commissioner, of DeKalb County testified in favor of the bill. They noted this generally is not a problem, but when it becomes an issue, it is an issue. This arose as a result of the courts’ mask mandate and other required restrictions in response to COVID while the other county offices in the shared courthouse had no such restriction. No one testified in opposition or for informational purposes.
The House Rules – Administrative Oversight – Committee met Thursday, February 11th, and voted on the following:
The House Rules – Legislative Oversight – Committee met Thursday, February 11th, and voted on the following:
HB 474 – Do Pass by vote of 7 to 2.
NOTE: When a Rules Committee votes to Do Pass a bill, it means the bill is reported in for the Speaker’s consideration for placement on the calendars for floor debate. For the most part, the Speaker will place bills reported in by the Rules Committees on the calendar.