Representative Jim Neely's Capitol Report
Paying Tribute to Our Heroes
As we head into the Memorial Day weekend, many of us will gather together for what may be the first time in months as we emerge from the coronavirus quarantine. As we happily spend time with our family and friends to enjoy the three-day weekend, these unusual and challenging times make it even more important that we remember and honor the true reason for Memorial Day.
Memorial Day was created with the intention of honoring our fallen men and women; to remember those who sacrificed in service to their country and fellow man. This important day became a national holiday in 1971, but paying tribute to our nation’s fallen heroes is a time-honored tradition that dates back to the first days of our great nation. This is a time for all Americans to reflect on the rights, liberties, and freedoms we enjoy, and to set aside time to honor the brave individuals who paid the ultimate price so that we might live today in this great nation.
The truth is that the greatness we have achieved as a nation is the result of the efforts of those willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own. During our nation’s times of greatest need, we have seen heroes rise to the challenge, roll up their sleeves, and do whatever was necessary to overcome the challenge before them. Today, as our nation faces the threat of COVID-19, all of us can take inspiration from those who have given everything for our nation. The small sacrifices we are asked to make are such small burdens when compared to the contributions made by our heroes. Theirs is a legacy not only for us to remember and praise, but to emulate.
So as we celebrate this weekend, I ask you to take a moment and think about what a blessing it is to be a citizen of these United States. This Memorial Day, let’s remember those who have given all, and use their lives and their sacrifices as inspiration to do more and be more. God bless America, and God bless the great state of Missouri!
2020 Legislative Sessions Sees Several Key Measures Receive Final Approval
Despite a legislative session that was shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers were able to work together to pass a number of important bills and send them to the governor for his approval. The abbreviated session saw 51 pieces of legislation receive final approval from the General Assembly. This number is significantly reduced from the 2019 session, which saw 95 bills make it through the legislative process. While the final bill count for the 2020 session was diminished, the legislature was able to address many important issues with the legislation it passed.
Some of the bills now on their way to the governor’s desk include:
COVID-19 Testing (HB 1682) – A piece of legislation approved this session is meant to provide free COVID-19 testing for those who need it. The bill would cover the cost of testing up to $150 if a health care provider recommends the test be done. The bill authorizes the Department of Health and Senior Services to utilize available federal funds to pay for the test.
Postpartum Depression Care Act (HB 1682) – Legislation approved this session will help new mothers experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression. The bill is meant to address the fact that Missouri currently ranks sixth in the nation for its high rate of maternal mortality, with postpartum suicide as the second leading cause of death for new mothers. It will provide women who screen positive for postpartum depression with postpartum depression care through Medicaid for up to one year. It also encourages certain health care providers to give information on postpartum depression to new parents, and offer voluntary screening for new mothers during their regularly scheduled well-woman and well-baby check-ups following pregnancy.
Mental Health Awareness (HB 1682) - A wide-ranging health care bill approved during the 2020 session will help raise awareness of the effects of mental illness on Missourians. The bill designates the month of May as Mental Health Awareness Month. The month is meant to emphasize the importance of good mental health. The legislation also designates July as Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, which is meant to raise awareness of the effects of mental illness on minorities.
Deaf Awareness Week (HB 1682) – The legislature approved a bill to designate the last week of September as Deaf Awareness Week. The week is meant to commemorate the first World Congress of the World Federation of the Deaf in 1951 and to increase awareness of deaf issues, people, and culture.
Minority Organ Donor Awareness Month (HB 1682) – Because of legislation passed this year, the month of August will be designated as Minority Organ Donor Awareness Month. Citizens will be encouraged to observe the month with appropriate events and activities to raise awareness of organ donation by all ethnic groups and the need for organ donors.
Infant and Maternal Mortality Awareness (HB 1682) – Legislation approved this session designates the month of September every year as "Infant and Maternal Mortality Awareness Month". During the month, Missourians will be encouraged to promote and engage in appropriate activities that educate the public about the importance of appropriate health care for women and their new babies, from pregnancy through the vulnerable first post-partum year.
Removing Prescription Requirement for Cold Medicine (HB 1682) – While the state of Missouri has no law requiring a prescription for cold medicines containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, several counties and cities throughout the state have put such requirements in place. Legislation passed during the 2020 session would prohibit these local ordinances and regulations requiring prescriptions, and void existing requirements on August 28 of this year. The prohibition would expire if the state’s methamphetamine lab seizure incidents exceed 300 incidents in a year. The state has seen the number of meth-related incidents drop significantly in recent years, with only 50 incidents reported in 2018. The bill also changes the amounts that can be sold or dispensed to a person in a 30-day period without a prescription from a maximum of 9 grams to a maximum of 7.2 grams and adds an annual limit of 43.2 grams.
Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act (HB 1387 & 1482) – The legislature took action this year to help Missourians monitor the care of their loved ones. The bill establishes the “Authorized Electronic Monitoring in Long-Term Care Facilities Act.” It allows video cameras to be installed in long-term care facilities so that family members can monitor the care of their loved ones. The issue grew out of safety concerns of Missourians with loved ones in long-term care facilities and became even more important when COVID-19 caused facilities to close their doors to visitors. With this legislative fix, families can request installation of monitoring equipment so they can keep closer tabs on a patient’s care.
Partial Motorcycle Helmet Law Repeal (House Bill 1963) – A wide-ranging transportation bill approved by the General Assembly includes a partial repeal of the state’s motorcycle helmet law. Under the bill, motorcycle drivers 26 years and older could go helmetless if they have their own health insurance. Individuals under the age of 26 who operate or ride as a passenger on a motorcycle or motortricycle must wear a helmet when the vehicle is in motion.
Remote Driver’s License Renewals (House Bill 1963) – Missourians will have the option to renew their driver’s license online thanks to a bill approved during the 2020 legislative session. The legislation authorizes the Department of Revenue to design and implement a remote driver's license renewal system accessible through the Department's website or through one or more self-service terminals located within the state. Drivers will be able to apply for no more than one consecutive renewal remotely, and would need to apply within six months before or after the license expires as required for conventional renewal. In lieu of the current vision test requirement, applicants for remote renewal would certify under penalty of law that their vision satisfies the legal requirements and that he or she has undergone an eye exam in the last 12 months.
Digital Driver’s Licenses (House Bill 1963) – A wide-ranging transportation bill passed during the 2020 session will give Missouri drivers the option to obtain a digital driver’s license in addition to a card-based license. The bill authorizes the Department of Revenue to design and implement a secure digital driver’s license. The digital license would be accepted for all purposes for which a card-based license is used.
Helping Missouri Businesses (SB 599) – The General Assembly gave final approval this session to legislation meant to help struggling businesses get back on their feet. The bill will give Missouri businesses increased access to capital by expanding the Missouri FIRST program, which invests in Missouri small business and agriculture entities. The legislation makes several changes to the linked deposit program. It raises the ceiling on how much state money can be devoted to the Missouri FIRST program, limits how much of the money can be deposited at any one bank and increases the percentage of loans that can be allocated to small business start-ups and expansion. The expansion of the program is intended to provide an additional source of low-cost capital to help struggling businesses and fuel the state’s economic recovery.
Preventing Fraudulent Service Animals (SB 644) – Legislation approved this session is designed to protect the many disabled Missourians who rely on trained service animals. The bill approved by the General Assembly would crack down on the growing problem of fake support animals. The use of fake service animals has led to the abuse of ADA accommodations for real service animals. The bill updates the definition of service dog and adds a definition for mental health service dog. It also makes it a class C misdemeanor to knowingly misrepresent a dog as a service dog. Subsequent offenses would be a class B misdemeanor.
Military Family Month (SB 718) – Legislation approved this session is meant to recognize the daily sacrifices of military families by designating November as Military Family Month. During the month, Missourians will be encouraged to participate in appropriate events and activities to honor the daily sacrifices of all military families who support their loved ones serving the United States.
Declassifying POW/MIA Records (SCR 32) – The legislature approved a resolution that calls on Missouri’s congressional delegation to support and help pass the “Bring Our Heroes Home Act.” The act would declassify certain POW/MIA information. According to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, more than 2,000 Missouri service members remain unaccounted for since World War II. The resolution is meant to help these families find answers and give them the closure they deserve.
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions, concerns, or suggestions you might have. As your Representative I am here to assist you however I can. I can be reached by email at Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov or by phone at 573-751-0246.