Capitol Report | April 28th, 2016

Gun Rights, Career Education, & Expert Witnesses

The Missouri House advanced two pieces of legislation this week to augment the gun rights of law-abiding Missourians. One piece of legislation would limit the fees to carry a concealed firearm while the other would effectively remove all fees by doing away with the need for a concealed carry permit, and instead allow what is known as constitutional carry.

HB 2057 would ensure that concealed carry permit applicants cannot be charged a fee in excess of $100. The bill specifically prohibits additional fees that may be charged, including any fee for fingerprinting or criminal background check. HB 1468 would allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit. Commonly referred to as constitutional carry, the bill would allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. The sponsor of the bill said it is meant to build on the constitutional change made by Missouri citizens in 2014 that allows Missourians the right to permit-less carry. The legislation is meant to bring Missouri statute in line with the constitution.

Both pieces of legislation also contain a provision to expand the state’s castle doctrine law. Current statute allows individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property against intruders. Both bills approved by the House would extend the protection against lawsuits to house guests who use deadly force. Both pieces of legislation are now under consideration in the Senate.

The House also gave final approval this week to legislation meant to better prepare young people for success after high school. The legislation that is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law would require the state Board of Education to establish minimum graduation requirements for a Career and Technical Education certificate that a student can earn in addition to their high school diploma.

Under the legislation, the State Board of Education and the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council will establish minimum requirements for a CTE certificate. Each local school district will determine the curriculum, programs of study, and course offerings based on the needs and interests of students in the district, and the state education department will develop a process for recognition of a school district’s CTE certificate program. Students entering high school in the 2017-2018 academic year and thereafter will be eligible for a CTE certificate.

The House also gave final approval this week to legislation meant to improve the reliability of expert evidence that is presented to juries in Missouri state courts. The bill would implement an established standard for determining when expert-witness testimony is admissible as evidence at trial.

The proposed standard, commonly referred to as the Daubert standard after a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case, is used in federal courts and in more than two-thirds of the states. Under this standard, the trial judge acts as a gatekeeper to ensure that “expert” testimony is based on “sufficient facts or data” and is the product of “reliable principles and methods.” Currently in Missouri, judges admit expert testimony if it is based on facts that are “reasonably relied upon by experts in the field.” The expert standard would apply in both criminal and civil cases, except in family law and juvenile cases. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

You may read more about what is happening at your Capitol below. As always, I will work diligently and tirelessly for you as your State Representative.

-Jason

House and Senate Reach Final Agreement on Collateral Source Reform Legislation (SB 847)

Legislation now on its way to the governor’s desk would reform Missouri’s legal system to clarify that an injured person involved in a lawsuit can recover only the actual cost incurred for medical treatment. Specifically, the legislation would modify Missouri’s collateral source rule that currently prevents evidence from being admitted to show when a plaintiff’s losses have been compensated from other sources such as insurance or workers’ compensation.

Those who believe the collateral source rule needs to be reformed say the current system allows plaintiffs to make money by filing lawsuits for injuries that have already been covered by other sources. They say it allows individuals to recover damages or costs that were never incurred, while the intent of the law should be to make the plaintiff whole.

The change approved by the House and Senate simply clarifies that an injured person can recover the actual cost incurred for medical treatment rather than the inflated value of the treatment billed by a health care provider. Specifically, it allows evidence to be admitted in court showing the actual cost, rather than the value, of the medical care or treatment to the plaintiff.

If the bill is signed into law by Governor Nixon, Missouri will join many other states that have already worked to reform collateral source statutes so that awards do not exceed actual recovery costs.

Expert Witness Legislation Receives Final Approval (SB 591)

The House gave final approval this week to legislation meant to improve the reliability of expert evidence that is presented to juries in Missouri state courts. The bill would implement an established standard for determining when expert-witness testimony is admissible as evidence at trial.

The proposed standard, commonly referred to as the Daubert standard after a 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case, is used in federal courts and in more than two-thirds of the states. Under this standard, the trial judge acts as a gatekeeper to ensure that “expert” testimony is based on “sufficient facts or data” and is the product of “reliable principles and methods.” Currently in Missouri, judges admit expert testimony if it is based on facts that are “reasonably relied upon by experts in the field.”

The expert standard would apply in both criminal and civil cases, except in family law and juvenile cases. The bill now moves to the governor’s desk for his consideration.

Encouraging Career and Technical Education (SBs 620 & 582)

The House gave final approval this week to legislation meant to better prepare young people for success after high school. The legislation that is now on its way to the governor’s desk to be signed into law would require the state Board of Education to establish minimum graduation requirements for a Career and Technical Education certificate that a student can earn in addition to their high school diploma.

Under the legislation, the State Board of Education and the Career and Technical Education Advisory Council will establish minimum requirements for a CTE certificate. Each local school district will determine the curriculum, programs of study, and course offerings based on the needs and interests of students in the district, and the state education department will develop a process for recognition of a school district’s CTE certificate program. Students entering high school in the 2017-2018 academic year and thereafter will be eligible for a CTE certificate.

Currently, Missouri has an established CTE system, as outlined by the Missouri Department of Education. Missouri’s CTE education system is made up of over 500 local education agencies, including 437 high school districts. In the 2014–15 school year, over 250,000 high school students and adults participated in career education training programs.

Missouri House Advances Gun Rights Measures (HB 1468 and HB 2057)

The Missouri House advanced two pieces of legislation this week to augment the gun rights of law-abiding Missourians. One piece of legislation would limit the fees to carry a concealed firearm while the other would effectively remove all fees by doing away with the need for a concealed carry permit, and instead allow what is known as constitutional carry.

HB 2057 would ensure that concealed carry permit applicants cannot be charged a fee in excess of $100. The bill specifically prohibits additional fees that may be charged, including any fee for fingerprinting or criminal background check.

HB 1468 would allow Missourians to carry a concealed weapon without the need for a permit. Commonly referred to as constitutional carry, the bill would allow any person to carry a concealed firearm anywhere that isn’t expressly prohibited by law. The sponsor of the bill said it is meant to build on the constitutional change made by Missouri citizens in 2014 that allows Missourians the right to permit-less carry. The legislation is meant to bring Missouri statute in line with the constitution.

As the sponsor of HB 1468 said, “This legislation simply aligns Missouri statutes with our state constitution so that our citizens can lawfully carry a concealed weapon without a permit. This will end the unfair tax on our right to bear arms by doing away with the concealed carry permit fee, and give Missourians the protection they deserve to exercise their Second Amendment rights.”

Both pieces of legislation also contain a provision to expand the state’s castle doctrine law. Current statute allows individuals to use deadly force to defend themselves and their property against intruders. Both bills approved by the House would extend the protection against lawsuits to house guests who use deadly force. Both pieces of legislation are now under consideration in the Senate.

House Moves to Create Dyslexia Task Force (HB 1928)

The House recently took action to augment the services and support the state offers to young people with dyslexia. House members approved legislation to create a Legislative Task Force on Dyslexia to study ways to better help children with the language-based learning disability.

Under the bill, the newly-created task force would meet four times each year to make recommendations to the governor and the General Assembly regarding issues and services for individuals with dyslexia. Specifically, the task force would be charged with making recommendations for a statewide system for identification, intervention, and delivery of supports for students with dyslexia including the development of resource materials and professional development activities.

The legislation also would require the Joint Committee on Education to provide technical and administrative support for the task force, and require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to provide information material regarding dyslexia on its website at no cost for school districts and teachers. In addition, the bill would require the department to employ a dyslexia specialist and develop professional development programs for school staff.

House Approves Legislation to Expand Access to Birth Control

The Missouri House this week approved legislation to make it easier and more convenient for women to obtain birth control medication. House members approved HB 1679 to allow women to obtain their birth control prescriptions from a pharmacist instead of a physician.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly two-thirds of women in the United States favor making contraceptives available over the counter without a prescription. Additionally, on demand prescriptions were recommended by a panel of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in 2012 and affirmed in 2014.

As the sponsor told her colleagues on the House floor, “This bill could reduce unplanned pregnancies in the state of Missouri by an estimated 25-30 percent by providing women greater access to oral contraceptives by allowing them to be prescribed by pharmacists. This is a pro-life, pro-woman bill.”

The bill would require health insurance plans to cover up to a three-month supply the first time the prescription is dispensed, and up to a year supply for any subsequent dispensations of the same contraceptive. It would allow anyone age 18 or older to obtain a prescription from a pharmacist without the need of a previous prescription from a primary care practitioner or women’s health care practitioner. For anyone under 18 years of age, the bill would require evidence of a previous prescription from a practitioner.

The sponsor emphasized that passage of the bill also could provide substantial cost savings to the taxpayers of Missouri. She noted that 33,451 babies were born on Medicaid in 2015, and the total cost for deliveries was $169 million. In addition, the total expenditure for the first year of life for infants on Medicaid was $305 million. The sponsor pointed out that reducing unplanned pregnancies by 10 to 20 percent could result in cost savings for taxpayers of 47 to 95 million dollars a year. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Capitol Visit

545478421Mr. Dan Hewkin of Cuba dropped in this week for a surprise visit at the Capitol. We had a nice conservation outside the House Chamber. It is always great to visit with engaged constituents!

I am committed to serve the constituents of the 120th District, so please feel free to contact my office anytime at 573-751-1688. Your District 120 Capitol office is 201 W Capitol Ave, Rm 115H, Jefferson City, MO 65101.

 

 

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