Missouri Senate
97th General Assembly
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Bob Dixon

Serving the People of the
30th Senatorial District

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Senator Bob Dixon
Missouri Senate
State Capitol, Room 332
201 W. Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101



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Memorial Day: Honoring Their Service

Last Friday, the gavel fell on the First Regular Session of the 97th General Assembly, and this coming Tuesday, the General Assembly will officially adjourn, ending this year's legislative session. In next week's Dialogue, I will go over the highlights of this session and discuss the success we enjoyed on several local priorities. This week, as we ready ourselves for Memorial Day weekend, I felt a discussion of veterans-related legislation would be more timely.       


Originally known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day serves as a time for us to remember those who have died in service to our nation. As we remember the fallen, we also look to the needs of those currently serving. Missouri's steadfast commitment to veterans through its public policies has always been a point of pride for me. Those who serve the cause of freedom here and abroad deserve a state ready and committed to providing necessary services to them.


Veterans' Treatment Courts


First, the General Assembly passed legislation authorizing the creation of veterans treatment courts, an effort I was able to assist both as Judiciary chair (Senate Bill 118) and floor handler of a judiciary bill (House Bills 374 & 434), onto which the measure was amended. The legislation allows specialty courts to handle certain cases involving current or former military personnel. In unfortunate circumstances where a veteran may be involved, veterans' treatment courts could accept participants who meet certain criteria from other jurisdictions when there are no veterans treatment courts located where they are charged. These courts also provide a means to connect these individuals with services or programs that may help steer them on a different course.    

Honors for Veterans


Other bills dealt with proper honors for living or deceased veterans. In order to ensure that the remains of Missouri veterans are handled with the respect their deserve, Senate Bill 186 allows funeral establishments and coroners that have unclaimed cremated remains of Armed Service members to release them, upon proper verification, to a veterans' service organization for burial at a state or national veterans' cemetery. Current law is unclear about how these remains can be claimed. A second bill, House Bill 702, dealt with military medals in the possession of the State Treasurer as custodian of abandoned property. In order to help identify original medal recipients (or their heirs or beneficiaries), this legislation will allow the State Treasurer to make specific information available to the public. It also authorizes the State Treasurer to designate veterans' organizations or similar groups as custodians of military medals until the owners or the heirs/beneficiaries are located. These organizations would also be able to assist the treasurer's office in identifying the original owners of the military medals.

Education and Jobs

Two additional measures affect the educational and occupational opportunities available to veterans in Missouri. Senate Bill 106 allows certain military training courses to convert into academic credit, gives certain members of the Armed Forces the opportunity to keep their professional health-related licenses or certificates while on active duty, and lets military members apply their service toward qualifications to receive a professional license or certificate. Furthermore, it also establishes the child custody and visitation rights of deploying military parents. Senate Bill 117 grants Missouri resident status to those individuals who have received an honorable or general discharge from the military, qualifying them for in-state tuition at Missouri institutions of higher education.    


Finally, Senate Bill 116 eases burdens associated with voting for service men and women. The bill will change how uniformed military and overseas voters request, receive and send voter registration applications for absentee ballots, allowing servicemen and women to go online and request an absentee ballot to cast their vote. The Missouri Secretary of State would be required to establish an electronic transmission system that would allow a covered voter — a uniformed service voter who is registered to vote in Missouri, has a voting residence in the state, and who satisfies Missouri's voter eligibility requirements, as well as overseas voters who are otherwise eligible to vote in Missouri — to apply and receive voter registration material and military-overseas ballots.


As these men and women serve with honor, it is our duty to honor their service. I am grateful for the sacrifices they all make, and I know they have our heartfelt appreciation and thanks for what they do.