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NewsBook:  Missouri Government News for the Week of April 25, 2016

Speaker of the House Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said a constitutional amendment to protect businesses' religious freedom is dead.

The measure would have allowed religious organizations to refuse to provide goods or services to same sex couples. It failed in the House Emerging Issues Committee in a 6-6 vote, where three Republicans joined the committee's Democrats in voting nay.

The Missouri State Capitol has been home to rallies for both religious freedom and LGBTQ rights in the past month, and the measure has made national news. A Democratic filibuster lasted 39 hours to delay the bill, attracting coverage from CNN, Fox News, and Buzzfeed.

Richardson said he could not see the bill being resurrected this session.

"I'm disappointed that the resolution wasn't able to move forward," Richardson said. "I said at the beginning that I was going to let the process work. The process operated here and the bill didn't have enough votes to get out of committee."

House Assistant Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty, D-Jackson County, thanked Richardson for allowing the process to work.

"Discrimination is not right for our state, it's not right to put it in our constitution," McCann Beatty said. "I have to give some credit to my Republican colleagues that also felt that this is the wrong thing to do for our state."

Because the committee vote was tied, the Senate resolution would need 82 votes on the House floor for it to be restored.

Missouri's Senate went past midnight Thursday morning in an all-night Democratic filibuster on a measure to require a photo ID to vote.

The filibuster over the House-passed requirement started with Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.

"Given that we are not a country that requires a citizen to carry government-issued IDs, this is an extreme burden on the electorate," she said when the filibuster began shortly after 6pm Wednesday.

At 12:15 a.m., the Senate session was suspended for private discussions. But two hours later, the Senate simply adjourned.

Republicans argue a photo ID would help prevent voter fraud and that such an ID already is required for other activities including the purchase of alcohol.

Holding more than two-thirds of the Senate's seats, Republicans have the votes to shut off debate and force a vote on the measure.

But when they did that earlier in the year on the measure to allow businesses to refuse services to same-sex marriages, Senate Democrats retaliated with stalling tactics that prevented further Senate action on bills for more than one week.

Missouri's earlier photo ID requirement was struck down by the state Supreme Court which held the state's Constitution did not give the legislature authority to require a photo ID to vote.

The bill filibustered in the Senate would require voter approval of a companion constitutional amendment which has cleared the House but also is pending in the Senate.

The House Emerging Issues Committee defeated by a tie vote the Senate-passed measure to allow businesses and individuals refuse services to same-sex marriages.

The measure was voted down 6-6 with three of the committee's nine Republicans joining Democrats to vote against the proposed constitutional amendment.

Earlier in March, the measure sparked a three-day Senate filibuster by Senate Democrats.

Before the vote, openly gay Missouri lawmaker, Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis City, told a very personal story on the matter and urged his fellow lawmakers to put themselves in his shoes.

"By our actions it's telling our kids, our grand kids, or brothers and our sisters that we have second class citizens that don't deserve the same rights as us," Colona said.

However, there were still voices in favor of the resolution.

Rep. Gary Cross, R-Jackson County, said he is not concerned with how he looks by voting in favor of the resolution. He said he just wants to be the representative who stands for something.

"Many times that's how our character is measured, is by how we handle ourselves with people who may not agree with us," Cross said. "For those of you who don't agree with me, that's okay. I'm not going to walk out of here and hold a grudge."

One Republican that voiced their emotional opposition to SJR 39 was Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Frankford.

Hansen said he felt that he already has the freedom to worship the way he wants, and he doesn't need a law passed to make it legal to do so.

"You can be a Christian with a big heart or a little heart, and this law to me, is asking me to play God, and I'm not God. I am not God," Hansen said.

Hansen was in tears as he told the room how this measure would be asking him to judge one sin as greater than another, which he said he could not do in good conscience, or as a good Christian.

"I have family in this situation," Hansen said. "But I love them."

Committee rejection does not stop the measure. Under House rules, a committee rejection of a measure goes to the full House for consideration.

The measure's House handler -- Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Union -- said he was not sure if he would make a motion to proceed, although he said he would if he had the votes.

If the House were to vote to overturn the committee's rejection, the resolution then would go to the leadership's House Rules Committee for a decision as to whether to let the House take a final vote on the measure.

Adult motorcycles could ride their bikes without helmets under a House-passed bill presented to the Senate Transportation committee on April 27.

The bill repeals helmet requirements for motorcyclists over the age of 21 who are able to show evidence of insurance and have either completed a motorcycle training course or possessed their motorcycle license for at least two years.

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, who sponsored the bill, said that the bill protects the personal liberties of motorcyclists.

"If we want to pass something that truly has an impact on saving lives without impacting peoples freedom this, I think, is the best way we've come about to this problem," Bullion said.

Bullion said that the educational class for new riders would be a more effective safety precaution than helmets currently are.

But Ray Pierce, program manager for Missouri Motorcycle Safety Program, said that no amount of experience or education can prepare a rider for every incident they may encounter on the road.

"No amount of riding experience is going to prevent the unforeseeable crash," Pierce said. "You can't convince the deer 'Hey I've got a lot of training, don't get in front of me.'"

Pierce, along with Maureen Cunningham, the Executive Director of the Brain Injury Association of Missouri, said the bill would remove measures that are saving lives.

"This law works, lets not weaken it," Cunningham said.

But Bill Kemker of the Freedom Road Riders said that allowing motorcyclists to ride without helmets would attract more riders to the state and increase commerce along the highways.

No immediate vote was taken on the bill.

More types of infections would have to be reported to hospitals and included in the information posted on the Health Department's website under a measure given final approval by the Senate Tuesday, April 26.

The bill's sponsor -- Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph -- said making the infection rate information public would put pressure on hospitals to be more aggressive in reducing infections.

"If the infection rates are on the Internet for people to see, each hospital will try to get it's rate down so that it looks better and is more attractive to the people that go to the hospital," said Schaaf, one of the Senate's two physicians.

In addition, the measure also would require hospitals to adopt policies on the use of antibiotics with emphasis on antibiotics used to treat antibiotic-resistant infections.

"A lot of the superbugs that we're having to deal with now are the result of people being given antibiotics inappropriately. So would require an antibiotic stewardship to ensure that everybody is using those antibiotics appropriately," Schaaf said.

The federal Centers for Disease Control reported in March that in 2011, 75,000 people had died from infections at hospitals and that one out of every 25 hospital patients had gotten an infection while hospitalized.

Other CDC information cites a current annual death rate at 99,000.

In Missouri, Schaaf said the hospital infection has declined in recent years after the state adopted the first infection requirements in 2004.

Adult women could get birth control medication from a Missouri pharmacy without a doctor's prescription under a measure approved by Missouri's House Tuesday, April 26.

The measure would cover both pills and patches for women 18 years of age or older. For younger women, a pharmacist could provide birth control medication only if there had been a prior prescription from a doctor.

However, after three years of first obtaining the medication, the woman would be required to present evidence of having visited a women's health clinic to continue to obtain birth control medication.

The bill requires pharmacies to refer women to a health care practitioner and train their employees to screen women for safety.

Supporters said more access to birth control will reduce unplanned pregnancy and abortion in the state.

"This is a pro-life bill," said Rep. Sheila Solon, R-Jackson County. "Forty percent of pregnancies in this state are unintended. This bill is going to help reduce abortions in our state."

Opponents said birth control's effects on each woman should be monitored by a doctor.

"Being able to get a three year prescription, or a year-long prescription, for contraceptives is a little bit dangerous," said Rep. Shawn Rhoads, R-West Plains. "I think most medical personnel would probably agree with that."

The bill passed with 97 for and 50 against. It will go to the Senate for approval.

Missouri's House sent the governor Tuesday, April 26, a measure to limit awards in medical malpractice lawsuits.

The Senate bill would limit court awards for medical damages to the amount paid for the treatment, instead of a lawyer's established value of the treatment. The measure also allows insurance payments to be credited from court awards.

The measure essentially would prevent a patient from receiving more in costs for treatment than the patient actually paid for the treatment to address the malpractice.

Rep. Joe Don McGaugh, R-Carrollton, said lawyers now inflate damages to earn themselves a larger cut, which needs to be curtailed.

"What we're trying to do is stop a windfall for trial attorneys," said McGaugh.

But Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis City and a lawyer, said the measure is built to save the insurance industry money.

"This is insurance industry welfare," said Colona. "I asked a question in committee to the insurance company lobbyist. I said 'let's get this straight: if this passes, not only will verdicts be lower, but it means your client, the insurance industry, will be lower?' 'Well yes representative, that's right [the lobbyist said].'"

The measure cleared the House 97-57 which is short of the 109 votes that would be required to override a veto.

A gas and diesel tax increase of 5.9 cents per gallon would be placed on the Missouri ballot under a measure presented to the House Transportation Committee Tuesday, April 26.

If approved by Missouri voters, legislative staff estimate the measure approved earlier this year by the Senate would raise $165 million per year for state highways and another $71 million for state and county roads.

Among those testifying for the bill was the Transportation Department Director, Patrick McKenna.

McKenna said that Missouri's system of roads, bridges, and highways is the seventh largest in the nation with more than 34,000 miles of roads.

"The tax payers of Missouri over the last 100 years have put in over 50 billion dollars of investment to build the system that we count on everyday," McKenna said.

The bills sponsor, Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff, said that Missouri needs safer roads for families.

"I worry about everyone that needs to safely and easily travel to work, take the kids to school, get to see there doctors. Or hospitals, EMT's, fireman, law enforcement, they all need to reach those services. Many times, life saving," Libla said.

The measure would raise Missouri's motor fuel tax, one of the lowest in the nation, from 17 cents per gallon to 22.9 cents.

Last year, the House Transportation Committee defeated a smaller motor fuel tax increase which would not have required voter approval to take effect.

Missouri's Conservation Department reported that seven deer were found with Chronic Wasting Disease out of 7,700 deer harvested under a special testing program conducted earlier this fall and winter.

The infected deer came from Adair, Macon, Linn and Franklin counties.

Since CWD was first discovered in 2010, a total of 33 cases have been discovered.

Chronic Wasting Disease is an fatal infectious disease that causes brain degeneration.

The Conservation Department announced testing requirements in 29 counties in the areas where infected deer have been discovered.

In those areas, the department will require hunters bring to a department CWD testing center any deer harvested during the opening weekend of the fall firearms deer season, Nov. 12 and 13.

The counties are Adair, Boone, Callaway, Carroll, Chariton, Crawford, Cole, Cooper, Frankling, Gascondade, Jefferson, Knox, Linn, Livingston, Macon, Miller, Moniteau, Morgan, Osage, Putnam, St. Charles, St. Louis, Randolph, Schuyler, Scotland, Selby, Sullivan, Washington and Warren.

The House Emerging Issues Committee once again pushed back a vote on the controversial religious liberties measure, SJR 39.

The proposed constitutional amendment would give legal protections to wedding businesses and religious organizations who deny service to same-sex couples because of a religious objection to same-sex marriage. If passed by the House, the resolution would go to a vote of the people on the November ballot.

Earlier in March, the measure sparked a three-day Senate filibuster by Senate Democrats.

Proponents of SJR 39 said it would protect the religious freedoms of Missourians.

Opponents of the measure said it would write discrimination into the Missouri Constitution.

The resolution has also received opposition from businesses, who say the resolution would hurt Missouri's competitiveness in the job market as well as turn away companies from wanting to do business in the state.

Last week, committee chair, Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, pushed back the vote on SJR 39 to sometime this week. Haahr said a couple of committee members approached him, saying they needed more time to decide.

"The biggest issue were that we received two legal memorandums, one on Tuesday one on Wednesday about the bill," Haahr said.

Haahr said the legal memos were complicated and took time and some serious line-by-line reading, even for the two attorneys on the committee.

"From the beginning our no. 1 goal was to thoroughly vet the bill and make a determination on whether or not we should pass or vote it down, or pass it with amendments," Haahr said. "It's hard to do that when you are receiving new information at literally the eleventh hour."

However, committee member and lawyer, Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis City, said the legal memos didn't really bring up anything new that the committee hadn't already discussed during the four-and-a-half hour hearing it had on the measure.

"The one new thing that was in one of the legal memos dealt with the state enforcing criminal penalties for anyone who would actually break a criminal law," Colona said. "I think the real issue here is members on the committee don't like the bill. They don't want to vote on it as it is."

Colona said the whole bill is just a rouse for people to protect the social right to express their displeasure for LGBT citizens receiving their rights under the Fourteenth Amendment.

"If this were really about religious freedom, there are other things in the Bible that religious people disagree with," he said.

He also said he agreed with other members of the General Assembly that have said Republicans are pushing SJR 39 to bring out the vote for the upcoming election.

"It makes you scratch your head and wonder what's going on. Are there that many folks in the General Assembly that don't agree with gay marriage?" Colona asked. "I don't think so. But I'll tell you, if this gets on the ballot, there are a lot of right wing conservative consultants who stand to make a lot of money."

Haahr said he will probably sit down with all of the members of the committee Tuesday and see if they are in a place where they feel comfortable with all the information before voting on the measure. He said he has not actually gone through and asked everybody for a whip count yet.

"When committee members come to me and say 'we just don't feel like we can make an informed decision,' I believe it's my duty as a chair to say we need to take a few more days and consider that," Haahr said.

Colona said he thinks that Republicans just don't have the voted in support of the resolution yet in order to take a vote.

"I'm just happy that the vote has been postponed for another day. That tells me that people have some pretty serious heartburn about this issue," Colona said. "Believe you me, if the Republican party could pass this out of committee tonight, we would be voting tonight."

Last Week

A resolution to the confrontation between Planned Parenthood and the Missouri Senate over subpoenaed documents was announced Thursday, April 21.

St. Louis Planned Parenthood agreed to allow access to some documents relating to disposal of aborted fetuses demanded in a Senate subpoena issued last fall, but not documents that would identify patients.

In response, Senate leaders cancelled an April 25 full-Senate hearing in which the St. Louis Planned Parenthood president had been ordered to appear to explain the organization's refusal to comply with the subpoena.

A few days before the compromise was reached, St. Louis Planned Parenthood had demanded that the former Senate President Pro Tem who had issued the subpoena -- Sen. Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles -- also appear before the full Senate hearing to explain the purpose of the subpoena.

Under the agreement, the Planned Parenthood documents can be examined at the Jefferson City law office of St. Louis Planned Parenthood's attorney  by representatives of the Senate within 60 days of the agreement.

The agreement between the general counsel for the Senate's president pro tem, Todd Scott, and St. Louis Planned Parenthood's attorney, Chuck Hatfield, prohibits copying of the documents.

Hatfield said the agreement does not include documents that would identify Planned Parenthood patients or physicians.

In return, Scott wrote that Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard would suspend the demand for a Senate appearance of St. Louis Planned Parenthood's president.

Planned Parenthood will be cut off from state family planning funds under the 2017 fiscal year budget passed by Missouri lawmakers Thursday, April 21.

It represented one of the few contentious issues during legislative debate.

"I'm going to vote no on this bill because I believe it is irresponsible for us to reduce access to women's health care, to reduce access to reproductive contraception," said Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City.

"We are potentially increasing the number of abortions that happen through this reduction of funding for contraception and I don't that's a pro-life position at all," Holsman said.

But Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, said there were more than 500 rural health clinics and county health departments that provide health services for women.

"There is not a single Planned Parenthood in this state that provides cancer detection, that provides mammograms, yet there are over 580 FQHCs, rural health clinics and county health departments that provide those services," Schaefer said. "So we did remove that funding for 13 Planned Parenthood [clinics]. That money is available for over 580 facilities across this state."

For years, Republicans have objected to family planning money going to Planned Parenthood. They argued it was supporting an organization that made referrals for abortion and operated clinics where abortions were performed.

The budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 provides $10.79 million for family planning and various women's health services including pregnancy testing and pelvic exams.

That budget section, however, prohibits any of the funds going to "an organization that provides abortion services."

The other major contention involved funding for primary and secondary education.

For yet another year, the budget fails to meet the legal goal for appropriations in the School Foundation Program that allocates funds to local schools.

"I am disappointed that legislators provided less funding for our K-12 classrooms than I recommended," Gov. Jay Nixon was quoted as saying in a brief statement issued shortly after legislative passage of the spending plan.

In presenting the budget to the Senate, Schaefer acknowledged state funding to public schools would fall $490 million below the "full-funding" goal.

Although the funding goal was passed into law by Missouri lawmakers in 2005, there is no provision to force the legislature to meet the goal.

In total, state dollars for education would increase 3.0 percent. The total state General Revenue budget would grow by 7.6 percent.

Legislative leaders have blamed the inability to provide a larger increase to education on the large spending increase demands for Medicaid that provides health care coverage for the lower income.

Because Medicaid is an "entitlement program," state government cannot cut payments of benefits established in law for eligible Medicaid recipients.

As part of their budget actions, lawmakers had to pass a supplemental appropriations of $458 million additional funds for Medicaid beyond what lawmakers had approved last year for the current budget year that concludes June 30.

The budget bills now go to the governor.

Once again, chair of the House Emerging Issues Committee put off a vote on contentious religious liberties measure, SJR 39.

The resolution is a proposed constitutional amendment to give protections to wedding businesses and religious organizations who deny service to same-sex couples because of a religious objection to same-sex marriage. If passed by the House, the measure would be put on the ballot for a vote of the people.

Rep. Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, said the committee would not be taking a vote on the resolution until next week.

Haahr said that, while he would vote in favor of the Senate-passed proposal, several other committee members need time to consider the testimony given on the measure.

The resolution sparked a 3-day Senate filibuster by Senate Democrats in March.

Proponents said the amendment would protect the religious freedoms of Missourians.

Opponents argue it would write discrimination into the Missouri Constitution.

Policy director for ACLU Missouri, Sarah Rossi, led a rally in protest of SJR 39, and urged those who attended to put pressure on lawmakers to stop the resolution in its tracks.

"And if there's one thing I've heard in this building over and over again, it's that the government should not be interfering in private family decisions, and that is exactly what this is," Rossi said. "It is interfering in the lives of lesbian and gay couples across the state of Missouri, and it is the only group, only group, that this legislature is talking about doing that to. It's time it stopped."

Haahr said the vote on SJR 39 could come as early as Monday.

Missouri Representatives gave first-round approval Wednesday, April 20, to a bill that would promise a speedy disposition to animal owners accused of abuse or neglect.

Currently, a court is only required to give a disposition hearing within 30 days of its initial filing. The change in the bill would require a hearing be given within 10 days, so that owners are not under an unnecessary legal burden.

Bill sponsor, Rep. Sonya Anderson, R-Springfield, argues that under the current process, owners are losing their animals due to the inability to pay bond or the costs that come along with the legal challenge.

Anderson said decreasing the time period before a hearing would help save money and make the process more fair for animal owners.

Rep. Jacob Hummel, D-St. Louis City, voiced concerns concerns that the change would not provide enough time for testing to be done in order to verify the reason for the animal's undernourishment.

Hummel said tests done by the University of Missouri on animals' blood for different diseases take longer than the time allotted in the bill, and the owners could possibly be charged for mistreatment without knowing all the facts.

Rep. John McCaherty, R-St. Louis County, said the bill is too concerned with the agricultural side of things. He said in his area, as in other parts of the state, it is puppy mills, rather than sick cows that he sees.

Another point of contention in the bill was the language that takes away the ability of public health officials to discern, confiscate or temporarily take care of malnourished animals.

Rep. Deb Lavender, D-St. Louis County, said this change could put the burden of finding and penalizing those who abuse their animals on the police force, that has more important things to worry about.

The measure also would restrict when an impounded animal could be euthanized or sterilized.

Missouri is the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program. and on Wednesday, April 20, the Senate Public Safety Committee heard two bills that would implement different kinds of programs in the state.

The House version of the bill would establish a statewide drug monitoring program that could be accessed by pharmacists and physicians

The bill sponsor -- Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston -- said the House version of the bill allows physicians to work with one another to provide preventative care for their patients.

"That's how we want addiction treated, we want it to be done by our medical professionals on the front end," Rehder said. "This bill allows that because it's your medical professionals that get to see that and make those determinations."

But since the prescription monitoring idea has come before the legislature, it's been blocked by one of few medical physicians in the General assembly.

Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, has voiced concerns about doctor-patient confidentiality for prescriptions.

Schaaf sponsored the Senate version of the bill which puts greater restrictions on who can access the information stored in the prescription drug monitoring program.  

Under the Senate bill, the Health Department, rather than physicians, would be primarily responsible for flagging those who are potentially abusing opioid drugs.

Schaaf said his bill provides stronger measures to protect the liberty of Missourians.

"It is wrong to take away the liberty of every law abiding citizen to stop a very few from breaking the law," Schaaf said. "Especially when they are putting their own lives at risk by doing so."

But Cindy O'Neill of St. Louis County, whose husband killed himself after being prescribed interacting medications by multiple doctors, said individual freedom should come second to life.

"There is no privacy if a person is dead," O'Neill said. "I would give my privacy if I had my husband back."

O'Neill said her husband might still be alive if his multiple physicians had been able to access information about the other medications he was being prescribed.

The House version of the bill would allow for such access.

The committee did not take an immediate vote on either bill.

Missouri is the only state without any statewide database of prescriptions.

Marijuana would be allowed to be prescribed for some terminally ill patients under a measure measure initially approved by Missouri's House, but defeated the next day.

The measure would authorize the purchase and use of marijuana by a hospice care patient who has a terminal cancer diagnosis. It would be subject to statewide voter approval to take effect.

The bill's sponsor -- Rep. Dave Hinson, R- St. Clair -- told the House about his father's refusal to accept medical marijuana as he battled bone cancer.

Hinson's father was treated at a Veteran's Administration hospital, a facility which is licensed to provide patients in need with medical marijuana.

"In this state they can do it, he denied it," Hinson said in regards to his father's refusal for medical marijuana. "You know why? [Be]cause it's against the law in this state."

On the other side, Rep. Tila Hubrecht, R-Dexter, said that as a hospice nurse she is uncomfortable will the bill.

The measure won preliminary approval on Wednesday, April 20, by voice.

But the next day on a required roll-call vote, the proposal was defeated 66-87 as opponents continued their arguments against the idea including opposition from one of the legislature's licensed physicians.

House defeat came as supporters of a broader medical marijuana proposal continue to seek signatures to place their measure on the August or November ballot.

The ballot proposal would authorize marijuana for a variety of medical aliments, including non-terminal conditions such as glaucoma and neurological conditions. It would not require the person be a hospice care patient.

The Missouri House voted to cut the legislature's goal for education funding.

The current goal for funding local public schools was created in 2005 to make them more equal, regardless of local tax revenue.

It has been underfunded by $656 million, leaving each student in the state $700 short of funding on average, according to the Missouri Budget Project.

The House vote came just days after Gov. Jay Nixon attacked the plan for forcing localities to spend more on education.

"With our economy moving forward and revenues up, now is not the time to back up on our commitment to fully funding our public schools," Nixon said in a press release.

Supporters of the bill said the formula must be more efficient to be successful.

"Go back to your superintendent," said Rep. Mike Lair, R-Chillicothe. "Ask him, 'if it's fully funded will you not ask for another nickel? Believe me, you'll get a good chuckle out of it."

Opponents said the measure will hurt students, with politicians moving the yardstick in an election year.

"You want to say that you fully funded the formula, and you want that to be a good talking point for the next two years, when you know it's going to hurt your district in the next ten," said Rep. Michael Butler, D-St. Louis City.

The goal was fully funded from its creation until the Great Recession forced it to be lowered in 2010.

Thirty-five percent of Missouri's budget goes to K-12 education, according to the Missouri Budget Project.

The handler of the bill, Rep. David Wood, R-Versailles, said the current goal is impossible to match.

"There is no way that we can keep up with this growth," said Wood. "We have to have the cap."

The bill passed the House, 116-38. It will go next to the governor's desk.

St. Louis Planned Parenthood has asked the Senate to summon the former Senate President Pro Tem who issued the original subpoena demanding documents from the organization concerning abortions.

The organization submitted a letter to Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, on April 15th asking Richard to issue a subpoena for Tom Dempsey.

In November, the then Senate President Pro Tem -- Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles -- issued the subpoena demanding documents from Planned Parenthood on disposal of fetal tissue and created the Sanctity of Life committee to investigate the organization. 

"We want him to talk with the Senate about how it was created and what its goals were so that the Senate can consider whether the subpoena that was issued was too broad and to invasive of privacy to meet the legitimate goals of a legislative investigation," said St. Louis Planned Parenthood's attorney, Chuck Hatfield.

Hatfield said Planned Parenthood also wants Dempsey to face questions on the creation of the Sanctity of Life committee.

"The full Senate has never voted to establish the Sanctity of Life committee," Hatfield said. "We would need Senator Dempsey to confirm that this committee was never voted on, its mission was never set out by the full Senate. It was just sort of created in response to some public incidents."

He said Planned Parenthood may need to get the court involved if the Senate denies their subpoena request.

The current Senate President Pro Tem Ron Richard, R-Joplin, said he had been advised against issuing a subpoena against his predecessor.

"You know I hadn't been advised by our Senate Attorney to do that yet," Richard said. "I don't really think it's necessary with Todd Scott our Senate attorney believes that there may be something in the works that may not get to that point. But I had not been advised to do that."

Hatfield said he cannot comment on any agreements that may be in the works.


A House committee heard a bill on Tuesday, April 19th that would prohibit transporting a minor across state lines for an abortion.

The bill's sponsor, Representative Tom Hurst, R-Meta, said the bill came about when the Hurst received a call last year from a parent who was outside an abortion clinic in Illinois.

"It was a young woman," Hurst said. "A lady and her boyfriend. She got pregnant. The boyfriend's mother took the child across state lines, to Illinois, to get an abortion. The mother was notified but did not give her consent and therefore could not be with her daughter during the procedure."

Hurst said it is not his attempt to make people felons, but to open the conversation. Anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor in Missouri.

Right to Life Missouri, Campaign Life of Missouri and Missouri Family Network all testified in favor of the bill.

"This is a long standing problem in Missouri," Sam Lee with Campaign Life said.

Currently in Missouri a minor needs a parent's permission in order to obtain an abortion.

Sarah Rossi from the American Civil Liberties Union testified against the bill.

"Minor girls have the same rights as adult women when it comes to accessing reproductive health care," Rossi said. 

University of Missouri lobbyist Marty Oetting spoke in support of a resolution to create a commission to review the UM System.

"We're always open to good ideas; I think the board is open to that," Oetting said.

The House Committee on Government Oversight and Accountability heard the resolution on Monday from Rep. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia.

The resolution would create the University of Missouri System Review Commission, which would review the UM System and recommend changes.

The action taken by the UM System regarding these recommended changes would then be considered by the General Assembly when they decide how much money to give to the system.

Oetting said the university would not be opposed to hearing suggestions the possible commission could have.

"So whether it's this commission or any other group that comes forward with recommendations or observations of what happened last year and how the university could handle it better, I think they're open to those suggestions," Oetting said.

While the university spoke in support of the resolution, committee members from both parties expressed concern with it.

Rep. Tom Hurst, R-Meta, said he is worried the commission would not inspire any change.

"When the Board of Curators basically sat back on their hands and let it happen, now what we wanna do is appoint another commission," Hurst said. "Do they have any teeth or can they go in there and say 'straighten up'? People are tired of it. I went to the University of Missouri. I saw things happen when I was there, they haven't gotten better."

Hurst said that if the commission didn't spark any action, the blame could land on the legislature.

"I'm not against your idea," Hurst said. "The fact that it costs them money to do it, I have a little qualms with. The fact that whether or not it does anything, I also have qualms with. Is it just going to be another committee that if something does happen they say, 'well you're the one that set up the committee to oversee it.' So not only then do they not take the blame, they force it on us."

Some Democratic committee members were concerned that the resolution did not have specific criteria for the appointment of commission members.

"I don't see anything in here that requires any sort of diversity, any number of women, any number of persons of color," said Rep. Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis County.

The resolution states the commission will contain eight members, four appointed by the Speaker of the House and four appointed by the President Pro Tem.

"I think the idea was to bring broader, additional perspectives to the table to help this be as effective and productive as it can be," Rowden said.

Rep. Courtney Curtis, D-St. Louis County, wanted to know whether recommended changes would actually be made.

"What is the likelihood that these recommendations that are compiled will actually be adhered to and implemented in a swift manner as opposed to not?" Curtis asked.

"I think the board and the University is going to have an interest in what this group comes forward with," Oetting said. "I think the ideas that have merit and they think would be helpful to the university given what we went through last year I think they'll look at those very quickly."

No one testified in opposition of the resolution at the hearing.