Legislation with Real Impact
The Senate continued to move legislation forward this week. We passed several Senate bills and sent them onto the House of Representatives for its consideration. We’ve also begun taking up House bills and amending them to reflect Senate priorities. One of those measures that began in the lower chamber was House Bill 2149. I was the Senate handler for this legislation and had responsibility for guiding it through our chamber. This bill began as a measure to streamline the licensing process for physical therapists and physical therapist assistants, but the bill expanded greatly once it reached the Senate. One provision, in particular, will have nearly immediate and real benefits to residents of our region.
Through the process of debating the House bill, a number of provisions originally introduced in the Senate were added. Several of the changes mirror legislation I introduced separately. I was able to include language from my Senate Bill 978, a bill that relates to audiology and speech-language pathologists licensed in Missouri, and Senate Bill 993, a measure authorizing pilot programs aimed at expanding dental services in Missouri. The Senate substitute bill also includes several other changes to professional registration laws that were introduced by other senators. I’m most excited about the addition of my Senate Bill 1153, though. This legislation will clear the way for military training exercises to be held in southern Missouri and provide free health care services in underserved rural areas.
You may recall I discussed SB 1153 in a previous column. This measure creates a licensing exemption for credentialed professionals from other states who come to Missouri to participate in “innovative readiness training (IRT) missions” through the Department of Defense. These training missions often involve health fairs and other events that provide services to civilians at no cost. Once this legislation becomes law, members of the military who are licensed as medical professionals in other states will be allowed to practice in Missouri during the duration of the training mission.
Already, there are plans for an IRT mission to be held from June 29 through July 8, with services provided in Ava, Eminence and Houston. The training sites won’t be open on July 4, but otherwise, Missouri residents will be able to receive basic medical and wellness exams, dental exams (including fillings and extractions), vision exams and single-vision glasses, all free of charge. These community events will be open to everyone. You do not have to live in the communities where they’re hosted in order to receive services.
I think you can see why I’m so excited about this program, and the legislation that will make it possible. House Bill 2149 still needs to go back to the lower chamber for final approval of our changes, but I have high hopes we’ll get this bill passed and sent onto the governor’s desk. If we have to go to conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions, we’ll do that, but I’m determined to make these IRT missions a reality.
I want to thank all our community members who are helping to put on this event, and working diligently to get it done. I especially want to thank the folks with the South Central Ozarks Council of Governments, who helped to write the grant that funds it, and are organizing it for success.
It is my honor to serve the residents of Douglas, Howell, Oregon, Ozark, Ripley, Texas, Webster and Wright counties in the Missouri Senate, and it’s always a pleasure to hear from friends and family back home. If I can help you in any way, please call my Capitol Office at 573-751-1882, or my District Office at 417-596-9011. You can also visit my webpage at www.senate.mo.gov/mem33, on Facebook: @SenatorKarlaEslinger, or follow me on Twitter: @seneslingermo.