Protection Orders Bill Passes
It was a crazy busy week in the Missouri Senate this week. With the deadline for finishing the budget looming and just one more week of session remaining, the pressure was on to get things done. Bills were practically flying back and forth between the Senate and House chambers as each body added their own mark on legislation. No bill can pass unless both chambers approve the exact same language, so if a Senate bill gets changed in the House, it has to come back to the Senate for another vote, and vice versa for House bills.
We continue to work toward passing the policy priorities I mentioned in my legislative report last week: the ban on vaccine passports, the declaration of churches as essential facilities, a prohibition against critical race theory education in our classrooms and passage of the Second Amendment Preservation Act. With help from like-minded colleagues in the House and Senate, I’m hopeful each of these policies is enacted, either as stand-alone bills or as amendments.
The Second Amendment Preservation Act received a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee this week. That’s a huge step toward getting the bill brought up on the Senate floor. I truly believe this is one of the most important bills before the Legislature this year, and I’m committed to seeing it passed.
The most exciting from this week is the final passage of Senate Bill 71, which includes my extended orders of protection legislation. Instead of requiring domestic violence victims to reappear in court every year to have protection orders extended, courts can now issue protection orders for any length of time the judge feels is appropriate, up to and including a lifetime. This simple change in the law will make a huge difference for victims, and spare them the trauma of having to revisit their abuse again and again in court.
I was thrilled to see the coverage the passage of this bill received in the state’s major newspapers. Several of the stories focused on two brave domestic assault survivors who testified when the orders of protection legislation was brought before the committee. I can’t thank these women enough. Their testimony, which recalled the fear and trauma of both their domestic abuse and the difficulty of repeatedly facing their attackers in court, made a huge difference.
As the House took up this legislation it added protections against electronic stalking, which is something that I have been working on in the Senate. Once the governor signs this bill stalking someone online or through their phone, or placing a tracking device under someone’s car will be illegal. When our current stalking laws were first written those types of devices didn’t exist. Now those sorts of activities can be prosecuted. I couldn’t be happier to see this bill cross the line.
We’re coming down to the wire, and we have a lot of work to do before the 2021 session ends on May 14. I’m excited to see what next week holds, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it all turns out.
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 Holly Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101, send an email to Holly.Rehder@senate.mo.gov or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.