Legislative Column for the Week of March 16, 2015
Tackling the Important Issues in the Senate

As we end our final week before spring recess, I have been working hard to move forward important legislation through the upper chamber. This week, I presented three bills in committees; another measure passed out of committee and has been placed on the perfection calendar; and three bills have received the Senate’s final approval and moved to the House for consideration.

Senate Bills I introduced in committees this week include:

  • Senate Bill 383, which would require health insurers to update their electronic and paper dental services providers available to plan members. Under SB 383, dental health insurers would be mandated to update provider information within 60 days of being notified of any changes by participating providers.

I feel that insurance programs’ protocols are in need of revision. During the Small Business, Insurance and Industry Committee, we heard testimony from dental professionals who have unsuccessfully tried for decades to have their names removed as providers of specific insurances. This should not occur. Due to this, dental practices are experiencing angry patients and lost income. This measure is a simple step in ensuring adequate information is provided to plan members.

  • I introduced Senate Bill 410, which would modify provisions relating to child support, also known as criminal nonsupport, on Tuesday (3-17) in the Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee. Currently, if nonsupport exceeds 12 months the offender would be charged with a Class D felony. I feel this a harsh punishment and would create a life altering change that would affect an individual for the rest of their lives.

This measure would extend the current 12 month period to 24 months, while also creating a one-time expungement option for an offender. A person found guilty would be given the opportunity to expunge official records of their arrest, plea, trial or conviction if child support requirements are met for a total of eight consecutive years. We all have fallen on hard times in our lives. This bill would allow those working to support their children the opportunity to receive a clean slate and more time to rectify a wrong.

Currently, the law only includes designations on interstate or interstate highway interchanges for armed service members who served and lost their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan on or before September 11, 2001. Senate Bill 474 would open these designations to all service men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country and state in any war. This measure would also expand where signs could be placed to add bridges and segments of highway on the state highway interchanges. This is just another small way we can honor and show gratitude to our military men and women, as well as show respect to their families and loved ones left behind.

Senate Bill 409, also referred to as the 911 bill, was passed out of the Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee on Tuesday (3-17). This particular piece of legislation is exceptionally important to the 27th Senatorial District. Many constituents do not have access to 911. This bill enacts a 911 tax that would help provide funds, services and access to these lifesaving programs. This has been a work in progress for ten years and I am pleased to see SB 409 moving forward.

I was very pleased to see three of my bills move to the House. Senate Bill 35, which requires MO HealthNet to terminate services for recipients residing out of state, and Senate Bill 152, which modifies provisions relating to solid waste, have both been second read in the House and are awaiting committee referral.

Senate Bill 34 & 105 also received the Senate’s final approval this week and is on its way to the House for consideration. This legislation would cover Missouri’s military members that have been separated from deployment to receive adequate time to meet voter registration deadlines.

Currently, the voter registration deadline is 5 p.m., the fourth Wednesday prior to the election. This bill would change that to 5 p.m., the Friday prior to elections. Many don’t realize the transition our military personnel goes through after deployment. It is an extremely hectic and busy time. I, myself, have been through 11 deployments and understand the transition time frame after returning home. Our service men and women need these additional four weeks in order to meet the deadlines set forth by Missouri. 

As previously mentioned, the House has passed their version of the budget this week. The Senate has been working diligently on our revisions in the Appropriations Committee to prepare the budget for debate on the Senate floor upon our return from Spring Break.

Approving a budget for Missouri is the only constitutional requirement we must fulfill during session. The Legislature is trying to speed the process up more than before in an effort to get the budget on the governor’s desk earlier. The governor has 15 days to sign or veto the budget. It is our goal to promptly deliver the budget so that we may appropriately address any actions while still in regular session, instead of waiting until veto session in September.

I am excited to see my sponsored bills moving forward. Whereas I look forward to Spring Break, I am eager to return, rested and refreshed, and begin working hard on legislation in order to better the lives of my constituents and Missouri.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Wayne Wallingford, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or email at wayne.wallingford@senate.mo.gov or www.senate.mo.gov/wallingford.

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