Thu, 05/20/2021 - 3:17pm admin
Rep. David Evans (R-154)
At the Capitol, we are now wrapping up the spring session. It’s been a very busy time. Unfortunately, we often don’t get serious about debating the strengths and weaknesses of legislation until the last few weeks of session. Sometimes at this time of year, we debate omnibus bills with many, many amendments and moving parts. I’m committed to changing this century old custom and procedure. It’s a challenge, but I’ll keep fighting.
On the positive side, I’ll mention a few of the bills that I’ve worked hard on this year. To me, some of the best changes are the smallest, while others make significant changes. The following bills have now passed, but have not yet been signed by the Governor:
Head Start Bus Bill: This bill is special to me because it came from a request by a retired Head Start bus driver back home. She asked why does Missouri law not currently require drivers to stop for Head Start bus kids just like all drivers are required to stop and wait for kids exiting school buses?. Because of a loophole in Missouri law, drivers can carelessly drive around the same yellow buses (but labeled as “Head Start”)while young kids are exiting those buses. It is a loophole that we have now closed. This bill is about protecting children and preventing accidents and injuries. Under this law, Head Start kids leaving Head Start buses will be given the same protections of the law as the older kids leaving K-12 school buses.
Raise the Age fix: This is one of the most important bills that I’ve worked on the last few years. Prior to my time in the Missouri House, a bill was passed that raised the age for being charged as an adult to 18 for criminal purposes. I think Missouri was the last state to make this change, and I understand why the bill was passed. Even though the original bill changed the age, it’s important to note that trial judges maintain the discretion to certify juveniles to stand trial as adults when necessary under the specific law and facts of each case.
Unfortunately, the implementation language of that bill was unclear with one provision seemingly contradicting another. Some counties are still charging 17 year olds as adults, and when arrested, those 17 year olds are being housed in adult jail. But other counties are sending 17 year olds to juvenile court, and those kids are being placed in juvenile detention. Legally, both cannot be right. It makes no sense.
Kids are placed in jeopardy if confined in the wrong place (adult jail versus juvenile detention), and counties will be liable for damages when the wrong decision is made. The passed law has an emergency clause, and if finalized by the Governor,will delete the confusing language and clarify the law. When signed, 17 year olds will be considered juveniles in every county as the original Raise the Age law intended. We were also able to get additional funding for juvenile court services across the state to better help our juvenile officers change children’s lives in a positive way.
Extended Order of Protection bill:
This is another bill I worked on this spring session, helped draft, and strongly supported. Currently, full orders of protection are time limited to 1 year with annual 1 year extensions possible. If signed, this law will allow extended terms for orders of protection from 2 years to life if the judge finds after hearing that the victim of the abuse or stalking is in serious danger of further physical harm and abuse or of continuous stalking. There are seriously dangerous folks out there, and this new law (if signed) is intended to provide stronger protection for victims of those very dangerous people.
I worked with my friend Lane Roberts on this bill. Lane is a former Public Safety Director for the State of Missouri and a former police chief for the City of Joplin. As Chief, he coordinated the law enforcement assistance within the city after a F-5tornado struck the city. Representative Roberts testified about this bill during session, explaining: “This may be the most important bill I have ever helped pass. Even if I never pass anything else, passing this bill makes my time as a legislator worthwhile.” I agree with Lane.
I’ll wrap this up as I’m getting too wordy, but I’ll talk about other bills passed out of the 101st (Missouri bicentennial) Session of the Missouri General Assembly in the next report.
I look forward to continuing to represent your common sense, conservative values.Please let me know If you have concerns and suggestions. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally or at the Capitol, please call my office at 573-751-1455, or email my office at email@example.com.
Missouri State Representative