Governor Signs Signature Bills
With the 2021 legislative session concluded, my colleagues and I watched to see what bills the governor would veto. As it turned out, he vetoed just four of the 69 bills and resolutions we passed during the session. Among the remaining measures slated to become law later this month, two were bills I sponsored and moved through the legislative process.
Senate Bill 51, which the governor signed on July 7, protects health care providers, small businesses, churches, schools and others from lawsuits related to COVID-19. The governor called for pandemic liability protections during his State of the State address in January, and I made it a priority to get this legislation to his desk. Passage of this legislation was also a priority for the business community, including the Missouri Chamber of Commerce. As Missouri’s economy continues to recover from the impacts of COVID-19, our schools, churches and small businesses need assurance they can safely reopen without fear of opportunistic lawsuits. With the Delta variant of COVID-19 raising new concerns, having clear guidance and protections from meritless lawsuits becomes even more critical. We cannot allow our economy to shut down again, and SB 51 helps keep our state open and ready for business.
The legislation I sponsored protects small businesses when someone contracts COVID-19 after visiting their premises, except in cases of recklessness or willful misconduct. The legislation also includes medical liability protections for health care facilities and workers, as well as product liability limitations for manufacturers who stepped outside their normal course of business to address shortages of PPE and other materials needed to respond to the pandemic.
The other major piece of legislation I carried across the legislative finish line this year is Senate Bill 53, which the governor signed on July 14. Following legislation passed in 2020 that relaxed residency requirements for police officers in St. Louis, I heard from KCPD officers who expressed dissatisfaction about a requirement prohibiting them from living outside the city limits of Kansas City. Many of these officers said the inability to reside where they chose was a major source of job dissatisfaction that contributed to persistent manpower shortages within the Kansas City Police Department. In fact, the residency requirement was cited as a major reason officers left the department, or refused to apply for a KCPD position in the first place. Particularly in the current environment, where many officers feel attacked and underappreciated, it is important that we make it easier to recruit officers in Kansas City, not harder.
My legislation extends the residency limits to a 30-mile radius around the city limits, providing police officers greater choice of where to live and raise their families. The bill also creates a new felony offense of “doxing” a police officer. Exposing a person’s private information online in an effort to intimidate or harass them has become a tactic of protestors and radical groups in recent years, but the consequences are especially dire when directed at members of law enforcement. Police face enough danger on the streets. They should not have to worry about their family’s safety at home. Finally, the bill also requires that any Missouri prisoner who received a federal COVID-19 stimulus check use that money to pay any restitution to their victims. Federal stimulus checks were meant to help families struggling during the pandemic, not to pad the pockets of violent criminals. Victims must come first, and my bill ensures they will.
It is my great honor to represent the citizens of Platte and Buchanan counties in the Missouri Senate. Please contact my office at (573) 751-2183, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/mem34.