Sen. Gary Romine’s Capitol Update: Helping Missouri Families in Times of Crisis

Romine - Banner - Column - 011713

It is estimated that at any given moment there are as many as 100,000 active missing persons cases in the United States; and approximately 40,000 sets of unidentified human remains in local government agencies throughout the country. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) website, there are currently 847 active missing persons cases in Missouri — 43 of which were filed in the six counties I represent. Just like so many of you who are reading this, it is simply impossible for me to not see those numbers and think of the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, families and friends who will never stop searching for answers or looking for their loved ones.

In an instant, these individuals are thrust into a new, heartbreaking and frustrating reality. They don’t know where to begin, who to turn to, which questions to ask or what resources are available, and they are often left feeling both alone and overwhelmed at the same time. I know there is more we can do, for them and the loved ones they are missing.

On Tuesday, I presented Senate Bill 1087 to the Senate Seniors, Families and Children Committee. The measure creates the Office of Missing Persons Advocate, within the Office of Administration, to help family members better understand the process of finding missing persons and to be the family’s voice in state and county agencies.

I see the missing persons advocate as someone who can help locate resources for the family. In missing persons cases, there is a fine line between a family member staying informed on the progress of the case and interfering with the investigation. The advocate will understand this difference and help families smoothly navigate through the process. It is also not uncommon for family members to become suspects, which adds another layer of complexity to the situation and often results in increased frustration. Senate Bill 1087 aims to find the balance between allowing law enforcement do their jobs and keeping family members informed.

Over the past several decades, advancements in DNA forensics have greatly improved our chances of solving cases of missing persons and unidentified remains. Unfortunately, this sophisticated technology comes with such a hefty price tag that it is cost prohibitive for many law enforcement agencies. It is my hope that SB 1087 will enable the Legislature to one day build a budget that allows for greater DNA processing capabilities through increased funding for facilities, staffing and database systems.

In other legislative news, my telehealth legislation, Senate Bill 621, was passed out of its first House committee and has been referred to the House Select Committee on Social Services. I also presented Senate Bill 688, establishing the Joint Committee on Public Assistance, to the House Children and Families Committee on Tuesday.

Finally, I was delighted to meet with a number of individuals and groups from the district this week, including: Herb Fallert and Van Robinson with Citizen’s Electric; John Singleton with Black River Electric Cooperative; Gary Masters with Midwest Petroleum; Bob Bullock with St. Francois County Community Partnership; Debby Bust, Sharon Gibson, Devin Sexton, Kelly Sexton-Alfaro, Judy Wright, Carmen Litton, Chris Conway and Eddie Strauser: board members and staff with Washington County Community Partnership; Jan Schweiss and Steve Hampton with Ameren; Brian Kocher, Gary Maberry, Mark Conner, John and Terri Jones, and Julienne Jones; Amy Acinelli, Melissa Holifield, Elizabeth Suermann, Marie Alonso, Torri Jones, Ashley Austin and Anne Gassel.

I also welcomed Dr. Greg Terpstra and his wife, Wilma, who were here for Physician of the Day. The Missouri State Medical Association provides the Capitol with a Physician of the Day during the legislative session. These physicians provide advice and medical care for small aches and pains.

I’d especially like to thank my mother, June Romine, who was at the Capitol on behalf of the Missouri Association for Family and Community Education for the annual Child Advocacy Day.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4008. You may write me at Gary Romine, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101; or email me at; or