Capitol Report | June 16th, 2016

Protection Bills Signed Into Law

With more than 13 million Americans victimized by identity thieves in 2015, the crime of identity theft continues to be a prevalent problem across the country. In particular, identity thieves tend to target credit cards and bank cards for their crimes, with approximately 86 percent of identity theft victims seeing their existing bank accounts compromised.

In an effort to protect Missourians, the General Assembly approved legislation this year that was just recently signed into law by the governor. SB 624, sponsored by Sen. Doug Libla, will make it a crime to knowingly possess fraudulently obtained credit or debit devices. Under current law, it is not illegal to possess another person’s credit or debit cards. Because of this, law enforcement must wait for the person to show intent to use the card or information before an investigation begins. The change to the law approved by the General Assembly will allow law enforcement to investigate as soon as they are aware that someone has fraudulently obtained the cards or personal information.

Also, last week, the governor signed Senate Bill 838, sponsored by Sen. Ryan Silvey, to help victims of domestic violence. The new law will allow victims of domestic violence who obtain a full order of protection to have their cell phone number and services separated from the account of their abusers. The phone companies require legal authority to modify contracts in this way. The new law will allow victims to transfer their cell phone service to a new account.

Another bill, HB 1583, sponsored by Rep. Sue Allen, recently signed into law by the governor will take multiple steps to better protect students. One portion of the bill will strengthen the requirements for anti-bullying policies put in place by Missouri school districts. Additionally, the bill defines cyber-bullying and states that any school district can subject a student to discipline for cyber-bullying. Another portion of the bill will allow licensed educators to annually complete up to two hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention as part of the professional development hours required for certification. The bill requires the state education department to develop guidelines for the training. The legislation also requires that each school district adopt a policy to address strategies that can help identify students who are at possible risk of suicide.

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

This week I will continue to summarize bills that were Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed by the General Assembly this legislative session.

Active Duty Military Member Tax Relief (SB 814)

The General Assembly approved legislation this session to ease the state income tax burden on active duty members of the military. SB 814 will allow active duty Missouri residents who are stationed within the state to deduct any military income from their gross state taxable totals. Under current law, in-state service men and women have to file military incomes on their state tax returns. Members overwhelmingly supported the change to better repay members of the military for their service, and to make Missouri a more military-friendly state overall.

Interchangeable Biological Medications (SB 875)

The Missouri House and Senate gave final approval to legislation to proactively update Missouri’s pharmaceutical laws to provide citizens with better access to effective medications. The goal of the bill is to give Missourians more affordable access to interchangeable biological products, which are similar in nature to the generic versions of traditional medications. The products are used in the treatment of chronic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and various forms of cancer.

Missouri law currently allows for the safe substitution of generic medications, but the law does not allow for the substitution of biological drug products. The legislation approved by the General Assembly will simply update Missouri’s law to allow for the safe substitution of interchangeable biosimilar medications. It’s a move that 20 states have already made to improve access to these affordable medications that have been proven to be safe by rigorous FDA testing.

Step Therapy (HB 2029)

Missourians with chronic illnesses would have better access to the medications they need under legislation approved by the Missouri General Assembly this session. The legislation is designed to prevent redundant “step therapy” so that patients who switch health insurance benefits are not forced to try medications that have already proven to be ineffective before being allowed to use medication that works.

With step therapy, a patient will first use the most cost-effective and safest medication and, if it is not effective, will then move to a more costly therapy. Step therapy has been an effective process, but becomes an issue when a patient tries several medications to find one that is effective, but then has to start the process all over again when changing insurance providers. The legislation approved by the legislature simply ensures that a patient will not have to go through the process of trying multiple medications again simply because of an insurance change. In effect, it makes it so the medicine prescribed by the patient’s doctor is the medicine the patient is allowed to take.

Overdose Medication (HB 1568)

The legislature approved legislation meant to provide lifesaving support for heroin and opiate overdose victims. The bill will allow pharmacists to sell Naloxone, which is an antidote for heroin overdoses, without a prescription. The General Assembly approved legislation in 2014 that put Naloxone in the hands of qualified first responders. The bill passed this year will place the lifesaving medication in the hands of family or friends who can save the life of a loved one who overdoses on opiates.

Medicaid Asset Caps (HB 1565)

The House and Senate approved legislation this session that will implement more reasonable asset limits for elderly and disabled Missourians who hope to qualify for Medicaid. Current law allows an individual to have only $1,000 in assets to qualify for Medicaid assistance. A married couple has an asset limit of $2,000. The bill approved by the General Assembly will steadily increase these limits to $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a couple by 2021. After that, the limits will continue to be modified to reflect cost-of-living adjustments. Supporters say the current limits, which have not been changed in 40 years, prevent some of Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens from having enough in savings to adequately provide for themselves, or pay for things like emergency car or home repairs.

Adoptee Rights Act (HB 1599)

The Missouri General Assembly gave final approval to legislation that will strengthen the rights of adoptees in Missouri. The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act is meant provide an easier process for an adopted individual to obtain a copy of his or her original birth certificate.

Under current law, files and records that provide identifying information about an adoptee’s biological parents are closed except by order of the court or by mutual decision of the birth parents and the adoptee.

The Missouri Adoptee Rights Act will allow an adoptee who is at least 18 years of age and born in Missouri to file a written application to the state registrar to obtain the original certificate of birth. The bill also gives the birth parents the right to file statements indicating they do not want to be contacted by the adoptee. If both parents indicate they would prefer not to be contacted, a copy of the original birth certificate will not be released. If just one parent wishes to not be contacted, his or her identifying information will be redacted from the copy of the birth certificate before it is released.

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. If you wish to unsubscribe from this report, please email Dylan Bryant at dylan.bryant@house.mo.gov

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