The following is unedited text from the weekly report of Missouri State Representative Kevin Engler, District 116. 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.
This week in the Missouri House, my colleagues and I took action to protect the integrity of the voting process. We passed two pieces of legislation, HJR 1 and HB 30 – a proposed constitutional amendment and a statutory change – that would put in place a requirement that voters must show photo identification before casting their ballots.
This issue that has been debated in Missouri and in other states for years now and 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.
The General Assembly also had the privilege of meeting with Congresswoman Ann Wagner and Congressman Jason Smith on their visit to the State Capitol this week. The Congresswoman came to speak in support of HB 152, 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.
She stated that St. Louis is one of the top 10 cities in the country for sex trafficking and we need to put an end to these horrific acts. For this reason, 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.
A public hearing on my legislation to increase the asset limits under MO HealthNet from $1,000 to $2,000 for an individual and from $2,000 to $4,000 for a couple was conducted this week in the House Committee on Children and Families. There were numerous individuals and organizations that came to testify in support and reiterate how necessary this legislation is to the citizens of our state. Following the hearing, the bill was voted out of the standing committee unanimously and will now make its way through the rest of the committee process to hopefully be heard on the House floor.
For any questions regarding this or any other legislation making its way through the Missouri State legislature, please do not hesitate to contact my office.
Joke of the Week
Researchers for the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority found over 200 dead crows near greater Boston recently, and there was concern that they may have died from Avian Flu. A Bird Pathologist examined the remains of all the crows, and, to everyone’s relief, confirmed the problem was definitely NOT Avian Flu. The cause of death appeared to be vehicular impacts. However, during the detailed analysis it was noted that varying colors of paints appeared on the bird’s beaks and claws. By analyzing these paint residues it was determined that 98% of the crows had been killed by impact with trucks, while only 2% were killed by an impact with a car. MTA then hired an Ornithological Behaviorist to determine if there was a cause for the disproportionate percentages of truck kills versus car kills. He very quickly concluded the cause: When crows eat road kill, they always have a look-out crow in a nearby tree to warn of impending danger. They discovered that while all the lookout crows could shout “Cah”, not a single one could shout “Truck.”
Please feel free to submit your “clean” jokes to firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com> to possibly be featured in upcoming Capitol Reports.
Once again, I greatly appreciate you allowing me to be your voice at the Missouri State Capitol. Please feel free to contact me with any ideas, questions, or concerns that you may have.