While the 2020 Missouri legislative session was anything but normal, several pieces of legislation were introduced, amended, and passed related to science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM). Particularly, legislators were forced to confront the COVID-19 pandemic and work with public health experts to support communities during the outbreak and practice safety measures at the Capitol.
Nearly 2000 bills and resolutions were introduced in the house and senate, but only 51 pieces of legislation were truly agreed to and finally passed (TAFP) by both chambers. The following list of bills will either be sent to the Governor’s desk as TAFP or held significant support from the 100th General Assembly but failed to pass by the end of the regular legislative session. For a full list of legislation introduced during the 2020 session, visit house.mo.gov or senate.mo.gov.
Protection of Foster Children (HB 1414/SB 693): This bill improves safety measures for foster children who may be in unsafe situations. The bill requires that a safety assessment be completed within 72 hours of any complaints or reports, and also dictates that the Structured Decision Making Family Risk Assessment tool be updated by the end of 2020. Several other provisions were also included in this legislation, including record sharing, alternative placements, and supervised visits.
Protection for Survivors of Sexual Assault (SB 569): A bill passed almost unanimously in both chambers, SB 569 streamlines the rape kit testing process and establishes a "Sexual Assault Survivor's Bill of Rights". The "Justice for Survivor's Act" was included as an amendment. This amendment added increased access to testing kits and to healthcare following an incident of sexual assault through a tele-health network.
Professional Registration and Reciprocity (HB 1511, HB 2046): With this bill passing, out-of-state reciprocity will now apply to several professional certifications, such as those in architecture, nursing, and engineering. The bill requires Missouri to accept out-of-state registrations as long as the professional has had the license for at least one year and is in good standing. This reciprocity could potentially benefit the health care workforce in the midst of COVID-19.
Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commissions (SJR 38): Despite ample controversy, the house and senate passed a joint resolution to add language to the November ballot amending the Clean Missouri redistricting guidelines. The new language would establish a House Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission and a Senate Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission that would have complete authority to draw new districts following the 2020 census. Whereas Clean Missouri dictated that an independent demographer redraw districts, the citizen commissions under this resolution would be political appointees nominated by both parties and appointed by the Governor.
Utility Safety, Infrastructure, and More (HB 2120): This bill started as the Water Safety and Security Act, but several other provisions were added before it passed on the last day of session. The bill requires that public utilities that utilize an internet-based control system have a security plan to prevent cyber attacks. Additionally, final language included provisions about gas infrastructure surcharges and rural broadband grants. Finally, an amendment was added to permit school districts to test their water supplies for lead contamination when buildings were constructed prior to 1996.
Health Care Omnibus Bill (HB 1682): Another bill passed during the last week of session, HB 1682 was amended to include several provisions related to health care and COVID-19 relief. The original intent of this bill was to ban vaping in public school buildings and school buses, but more than a dozen amendments were added. Notably, an emergency clause was added to assure that COVID-19 testing could be available to any Missourian at no-cost if recommended by a health care provider.
Land Conveyance (HB 1330): This bill authorizes the Governor to sell, transfer, grant, convey, remise, release, and forever quitclaim all interest in specific properties, described in the bill, along with an easement, located in Cole, Callaway, Ste. Genevieve, and Randolph Counties. There is an emergency clause for the conveyances in St. Francois County which will transfer land to the National Park Service.
Medical Marijuana Background Checks (HB 1896): This bill will require all employees of marijuana facilities to submit fingerprints and background checks. An amendment to this bill also prohibits the requirement of a prescription for sale or distribution of ephedrine drugs that are less than 7.5 grams per person over a 30 day period. Another amendment prohibits the sale of marijuana-infused products that are designed to appeal to minors, such as gummies, or lollipops. Finally, this bill adds offenses for trafficking fentanyl drugs.
Transportation Omnibus (HB 1963): From vehicles towing cotton trailers to boating safety identification cards, this bill covers a broad array of transportation provisions. This bill authorizes the Department of Revenue to develop a process for remote driver's license renewals. Another provision outlines flying drones over a correctional facility, mental health facility, or open air facility as criminal offenses. Following a report released by the Hyperloop Task Force in 2019, this bill also allows the state to enter into public private partnerships to build tube transport systems.
Peer Review for Professional Certification (SB 913): This bill repeals the expiration date on peer reviews for professional architects, landscape architects, land surveyors, and engineers. The peer review process was set to expire on January 1, 2023.
Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities (HB 1387): This bill allows residents of long-term care facilities to install an electronic monitoring device in their room as long as it is open and obvious to the facility staff. Surveillance collected on these devices can be used as evidence in civil or criminal cases associated with the long-term care facility. These provisions provide added protection to residents at these facilities.
Shelf-Stable Packaged Food Donations (HB 1711): As part of the Share-the-Harvest program through the Missouri Department of Conservation and Conservation Federation of Missouri, venison can be donated to local food banks. This bill extends the donations to also include shelf-stable venison donations, such as snack sticks and jerky, rather than only frozen venison.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (HB 1693): Missouri is the only state that does not have a statewide prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) to track opioid use, despite evidence that these programs reduce drug overdose mortalities. Legislation to establish a Missouri PDMP passed in the house and senate, but ultimately, the conference committee could not agree on the terms of the program.
Transportation Omnibus Part II (SB 782): This bill was passed by both chambers in the last week of session, but in a rare move, the senate voted to unanimously reconsider this legislation after learning the impacts of an amendment. The original intent of this bill was to extend the sunset date for temporary boating safety identification cards, but the perfected text included several amendments mentioned above in HB 1963. An amendment related to eminent domain on public utilities was ultimately the reason why this bill was reconsidered and will not be passed along to the governor.
Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force (HB 1683): This bill would provide added support to families of individuals suffering from Alzheimer's disease. In addition to creating an Alzheimer's State Plan Task Force, this bill also would have established support groups in every county statewide. This bill was perfected in the house, passed out of the Senate Committee for Seniors, Families and Children, but was not discussed on the senate floor.
Hypodermic Needle Distribution (HB 1486): This bill exempts anyone registered with the Department of Health and Senior Services that possesses, distributes, or delivers hypodermic needles or syringes for the purpose of operating a syringe exchange program or otherwise mitigating health risks associated with unsterile injection drug use from provisions of the law that prohibit such distribution or delivery. This bill passed the house, but was not taken up in the senate.
Rear-Facing Child Safety Seats (HB 2199): This bill would require that all children under age two be required to sit in rear-facing child passenger restraint systems. The bill was passed in the house, but was not taken up in the senate.