The breadth and depth of legislation the Missouri General Assembly considers each session is substantial. While every measure is important, the impact a bill can have greatly varies — from dedicating a memorial highway to addressing our state tax code. This week, the Senate passed a number of measures squarely aimed at keeping Missouri’s children safe and our criminal laws strong. As a lawmaker, nothing is more rewarding than those times when we are able to come together as a legislative body and demonstrate true bipartisan support for legislation directly impacting the safety and security of our state’s citizens, especially our youngest and most vulnerable.
On Tuesday (4-28), the Senate unanimously approved a House measure to expand the felony crime of sexual trafficking of a child to include the advertisement of a child participating in a commercial sexual act. There are no words to adequately describe the terrible atrocities children have suffered at the hands of human traffickers. Each and every step we can take to help these victims is an important one. House Bill 152 provides our state and local prosecutors with one more tool to use in the fight against human trafficking.
There are many components to keeping our children safe. Protecting them from physical injury, alone, isn’t enough — we must also look out for their mental and emotional development and well-being. Navigating the road to adulthood has never been easy. However, as technology grows and social media’s reach expands, today’s young people increasingly face situations, some of which are very troubling, that are entirely unique to their
generation. Parents and teachers, alike, must have the knowledge and resources to respond accordingly.
This week, the Senate showed overwhelming support for two pieces of legislation that would help our educators protect Missouri’s children and teenagers during the school day: House Bill 458, which strengthens laws regarding bullying in schools and establishes specific components that a district must include in its anti-bullying policy; and House Bill 501, which requires sexual education course materials to contain information regarding sexual predators, online predators and the consequences of inappropriate text messaging.
Additionally, SB 199 states that the use of force is not justified unless the amount of force used was “objectively reasonable” in light of all the facts and circumstances.
On Tuesday (4-28), the Senate gave its approval to Senate Bill 200, which modifies provisions relating to juveniles who commit first degree murder. In June of 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court in Miller v. Alabama ruled that mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile criminal offenders are unconstitutional and that a state must have two sentencing options. Current Missouri law only provides for life without parole, meaning we do not have a constitutionally satisfactory punishment for individuals who are found guilty of committing first degree murder while under the age of 18.
Mexico and Spain facing crisis and economic collapse because of unsustainable debt spending by their governments.
That’s why, with a bipartisan vote, the Senate passed Senate Bill 433 – Compact for a Balanced Budget this week. The Compact represents a solemn
promise by this state to use its constitutional power under Article V of the U.S. Constitution to advance and ratify a powerful Balanced Budget Amendment in as few as 12 months. That amendment would impose a constitutional debt limit that could not be increased without the approval of a majority of state legislatures. States would be placed in the position of imposing external discipline on the federal government to stop its abuse of debt and future generations. This would restore a crucial check and balance on the otherwise unlimited federal power to incur debt, while preserving the flexibility needed to handle genuine national emergencies.