Sen. Caleb Rowden’s Legislative Column for the Week of March 1, 2021

As we near the midway point of the legislative session, the Missouri Senate has discussed and debated numerous proposals and has sent 11 bills to the Missouri House of Representatives for their consideration. This week, I wanted to highlight two bills in particular we discussed on the Senate floor.

Senate Bill 38 changes the current definition of electric bicycles to bring it in line with the definition under federal law. Currently, these electric bicycles are regulated similarly to mopeds or other gas-powered bikes. Under this legislation, electric bikes will be classified into three classes based on maximum speed and the points at which the motor kicks in to assist riders as they pedal. This legislation still gives local authorities the discretion to prohibit the operation of electric bicycles on specific trails or paths, and the same rules of the road that apply to manual bicycles will be used for electric bicycles.

I am happy to see this legislation move forward. During the past year, more people were walking, running and biking outside due to social distancing, and I am hopeful this legislation will help those who prefer electric bikes. It is also a great option for individuals who love bicycling, but may have a disability or mobility issues that do not allow them to ride a manual bicycle. I think SB 38 will encourage people to get outside and exercise more, and I am hopeful the House passes the legislation quickly.

My colleagues and I also discussed and gave initial approval to Senate Bill 43 this week, which would require all health insurance plans to provide coverage for hearing aids for children under the age of 18, using the same standards in place for child hearing aid coverage under Medicaid.

As any parent knows, kids are constantly growing out of their clothes and shoes, and the same thing happens with hearing aids. During the committee hearing on this legislation, parents testified on the exorbitant cost of hearing aids and how often they have had to purchase new hearing aids because their child had outgrown their last set. For many children, they must wear them all the time. If a family cannot afford hearing aids, I cannot imagine the effect this has on a child. From education to socialization, many aspects of our lives depend on our hearing, and I am saddened to think that some children may be missing out on things many of us often take for granted. As a parent, I am thankful for this legislation because I believe it is vitally important that children have the opportunity to receive new hearing aids when they need them, regardless of their health insurance plan.