The following is unedited text from the weekly report of Missouri State Representative Linda Black, District 117. 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.
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. A voter ID bill was 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 this issue with the goal that would require voters to prove their identity before voting.
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.
As we send these pieces of legislation to the Senate, we will do our best to work toward a compromise with our Senate colleagues. 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 they want a system of voter identification will one then be put in place.
House Approves Resolution to Challenge Constitutionality of President’s Executive Amnesty (HCR 12)
In the same week a federal judge in Texas temporarily stopped the implementation of President Obama’s executive amnesty, the Missouri House adopted a resolution urging our Attorney General to join 26 other states that have filed suit against the executive order.
The lawsuit filed and joined by a coalition of states alleges that the president violated his obligations under the Constitution’s Take Care Clause, as well as the Administrative Procedure Act and federal immigration statutes. The lawsuit claims changes to these laws should be made by Congress, not the president.
HCR 12 approved by the House urges Attorney General Chris Koster to join the lawsuit and oppose this president’s decision to suspend the nation’s immigration laws. Our government is meant to have a system of checks and balances that require the branches of government to work together in order to put new laws into effect. Moving forward, we want to see the branches of government work together to address this incredibly important issue of immigration.
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.
A Snapshot of Human Trafficking Today
· 32 billion – annual revenue in human trafficking industry (US Dept. of Justice)
· 21 million – the number of people enslaved today (Int’l Labor Organization)
· 13 years old – average age of girls trafficked in the U.S. (US Dept. of Justice)
· 4.5 million – the number of people caught in sexual slavery (Int’l Labor Organization)
· 3 – the number of people enslaved out of every 1,000 people alive. (Int’l Labor Organization)
In the world of human trafficking, ignorance is not bliss, it is barbaric. Sex trafficking is increasing at alarming rates. Why? It’s simple really. Because girls (& boys) can be sold over and over as opposed
to illegal weapons or drugs that can only be sold once. This makes for huge profits!
The “sex sells” marketing prevalent in our society, applies to more than car commercials and billboards.
It can be seen in the lives of real children and is bringing an increasing real danger for our American communities.
The Missouri Legislature hopes that this bill will help 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.
U.S. Congresswoman Ann Wagner presented the Representatives with a bracelet from Monarch Jewelry.
Monarch is a Christian ministry that creates artistic jewelry and accessories as a unique way to engage in the fight against modern day slavery. Their mission is to increase awareness, raise funds and encourage others to fight against sex trafficking.
For more information on human trafficking, click on http://www.humantrafficking.org/