The following is unedited text from the weekly report of 115th District State Representative Elaine Gannon. Legislative reports are shared as a service of the Farmington Regional Chamber. The opinions expressed in legislative reports are that of the individual legislator and do not represent an endorsement by the Farmington Regional Chamber.
It is hard to believe that the Legislature has been in session for over a month now. My colleagues and I have been working hard for citizens across the state. This week my bill, HCR 16, was heard in the Trade and Tourism Committee. HCR 16 would establish the month of September as Missouri Whole Child month and gives educators and administrators guidelines togive children of all ages the skills, support and security they need to build emotionally healthy lives and become caring, responsible adults.
It was also great to see our congressman, Jason Smith, along with Congresswoman Ann Wagner and Senator Roy Blunt at the Missouri Capitol this week. Below I have included a few other things that the House of Representatives worked on this week.
House Members Approve Voter ID Legislation (HJR 1 and HB 30)
The House took action this week to pass legislation intended to protect the integrity of the voting process. The members of the House passed two pieces of legislation – one a proposed constitutional amendment and the other a statutory change – that would put in place a requirement that voters must show photo identification before casting their ballots.
This is an issue that has been debated in Missouri and in other states for years now. In fact, Missouri saw a voter ID bill signed into law in 2006 only to see it later struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court. Since that time, the legislature has continued to work on the issue with the goal of finding a compromise that would require voters to prove their identity before voting without disenfranchising Missourians who don’t already have a photo ID.
The legislation passed this week is meant to address the primary concern of critics by providing a government-issued photo ID at no charge to anyone who doesn’t have one. An amendment added on the floor also provides those without proper identification with a means to obtain a free copy of a birth certificate, which would be needed to obtain a government-issued ID. In addition, to prevent the requirement from being a barrier to those who cannot obtain an ID and those born before 1950 who may not have documentation such as a birth certificate, the bill would allow these Missourians to vote by provisional ballot.
The House has advanced similar proposals in the past only to see them bog down in the Senate. As we send these pieces of legislation to the other side of the building, we will do our best to work toward a compromise with our Senate colleagues so that we can move these bills all the way through the legislative process. Keep in mind that the proposed constitutional amendment will require a vote of the people in order to be approved. Only if the people of Missouri decide that they want a system of voter identification will one then be put in place.
In the meantime, I am interested to hear your thoughts on this issue. Do you think it is important to require a photo ID to vote just as we require photo IDs to pick up a prescription or board a plane? Or do you believe a photo ID requirement would serve as a barrier to prevent some Missourians from voting? I look forward to hearing your responses.
House Committee Considers Legislation to Combat Sex Trafficking (HB 152)
Congresswoman Ann Wagner came to the State Capitol this week to speak in support of legislation designed to protect young people from the awful crime of sex trafficking. Wagner, who has sponsored similar legislation on the federal level, wants to raise awareness of the fact that it is not currently a crime to publish advertisements for sexual activity with a minor. While it seems hard to believe, it is true, and it’s something we want to change this year.
The legislation considered by the House Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee would expand the crime of sexual trafficking of a child to include advertising a child participating in a commercial sexual act. Individuals who engage in such advertising would be guilty of sexual trafficking of a child, which is a felony offense in Missouri with a possible maximum sentence of life in prison.
Our hope with this bill is to put an end to the many websites and online advertisers who are profiting from the sexual exploitation of innocent young people. With this bill, we can give law enforcement officials the tools they need to investigate and prosecute the despicable individuals who knowingly advertise the victims of sex trafficking. Together we can put a stop once and for all to these horrible advertisements that have been used for the sexual exploitation and enslavement of innocent victims.
Please contact me at:
201 West Capitol Avenue, Room 203C
Jefferson City, MO 65101-6806