This week the members of the Missouri House approved legislation that is meant to protect medical professionals from being pressured into performing procedures that violate their religious or moral beliefs. This is a piece of legislation that has been debated by the legislature in each of the last few years but has yet to make its way into law. Supporters say it is necessary to allow doctors and nurses to refuse to participate in procedures that involve abortion, contraception and stem-cell research. Those who oppose the bill feel it wrongly places the personal needs of a medical professional ahead of the patients they are meant to serve.
If approved by the Senate and signed into law by the governor, the effect of the bill would be to protect medical workers from being fired, suspended or demoted for refusing to participate in the procedures they find to be morally objectionable. Those who are pushing for its passage also point out that the bill would not allow medical professionals to withhold emergency treatment needed to save the life of a patient.
House Approves Plan for Veterans Lottery Ticket (HJR 48)
Also this week the House approved a proposed change to our Missouri Constitution that would provide a new funding source for our veteran’s homes and cemeteries. If approved by voters, the amendment would require the State Lottery Commission to develop and sell a Veterans Lottery Ticket by July of next year. The funds raised through the sale of this new ticket would be solely dedicated to the Veterans Commission Capital Improvement Trust Fund, which provides funding to the seven veterans homes currently operating in Missouri.
This has been an issue of discussion in recent years as our veteran’s homes have experienced a funding crisis. While the legislature found a new stream of revenue two years ago to keep the homes in operation, additional funding is still necessary for improvements and for the eventual construction of new homes. Right now the existing homes provide service to 1,350 residents, but the need for more is great as another 1,690 veterans are on a waiting list for admission. Supporters are hopeful voters would approve a new lottery ticket that would provide funds not only for the homes, but also for veteran’s cemeteries and for outreach efforts to help veterans access available benefits.
Protecting Missourians from the Dangers of Synthetic Drugs (HB 1051)
As synthetic drugs that mimic the effects of marijuana and cocaine have infiltrated our state, the legislature has acted to protect Missourians from these dangerous substances. What we have seen to this point amounts to legislative whack-a-mole as we have criminalized these substances only to see those who produce them change a molecule or two in order to create a new synthetic drug not addressed by our laws.
The legislature first addressed what is known as "K2" in 2010 only to see a new form of synthetic marijuana called "K3" appears shortly after. In 2011, House and Senate members again took up the issue by expanding state law to cover new synthetics. This year’s bill takes a similar approach as we again add new chemical compounds to the list of synthetic cannabinoids to keep Missouri statutes up-to-date and effective.
HB 1051 was approved by the House this week and now moves to the Senate for further consideration.
House Approves Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (HB 1133)
The Missouri House approved a bill this week that would create a state database to monitor and track the purchases of prescription drugs. Currently Missouri is the only state in the nation that does not have a monitoring program in place. Supporters of the idea say that such a program is effective in preventing individuals from engaging in what is referred to as "doctor shopping" where they go from physician to physician to obtain prescription drugs with the purpose of using or selling them for illicit purposes. The sponsor of the bill said Missouri’s lack of a program has made our state the "doctor-shopping capital for the country." Those who spoke against the bill raised concerns with the private information that would be maintained in the database and the potential for the information to be hacked and shared.
The legislation would require the Department of Health and Senior Services to develop and maintain the database. Pharmacies would have to submit to the database relevant information related to the sale of prescription drugs including date of sale, the drug’s quantity, and the identity of patient, doctor and pharmacy. The bill would require all submitted prescription information to be confidential and makes it a misdemeanor crime to wrongly disclose the information.
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.
FFA Students Visit the State Capitol
This week we had a group of extraordinary young people make the journey to the state Capitol to discuss their passion for agriculture. The officers of the Missouri FFA Association spent their time in the building discussing and advocating for our state’s number one industry. Their visit was highlighted by FFA State President Abrea Mizer delivering an address to the Missouri House from the Speaker’s Dais. Abrea was eloquent and informative as she described the organization’s current theme of "Grow your passion and unearth your purpose."
Abrea and her fellow officers were a delight to visit with and it was clear from the time they spent here that they are driven to protect and preserve the agricultural traditions that have been an integral part of our state from its beginning. As you may or may not know, the national FFA Association began in the Baltimore Hotel in Kansas City, Missouri in 1928. Today the group continues to thrive with nearly 580,000 members nationwide, and close to 26,000 members right here in Missouri.
I do appreciate your input on matters of importance to you, your family, and community. If, at any time, you have questions, concerns or ideas to improve our state government and the quality of life for Missouri citizens, please feel free to contact me at 573-751-1459 or e-mail me at email@example.com. Thank you for taking an active role by voicing your opinions on our state and national government issues. Thank you for the honor to serve the 35th District.