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Review of Action on Second-to-last Day of MO Session

(KWMU file photo)


Jefferson City, MO – Missouri lawmakers' spring session will be done at 6-oclock tonight (Friday). They passed a number of measures yesterday.

Here is a list of legislation they passed, most of which was then sent to Governor Holden for his signature or veto:

College Savings
- Legislation authorizing tax-free interest on money reserved for college, if it is saved in a bank certificate of deposit. It would expand the state's 529 plan, which gets its name from the chapter of federal tax code that establishes the tax break.

Vital Records
- Legislation to hike fees charged for vital records, like birth, Death, and marriage certificates. The price of birth and marriage certificates would increase to $15 from $10. Death records would cost $13; people are currently charged $10. The extra money would help keep up cemeteries and to also automate the state's vital records system.

The fee hikes are part of a larger county government bill that would also make towns with fewer than 10,000 people immune from lawsuits over injuries or deaths to people at local fairs or festivals.

Mental Health Insurance
- Legislation requiring health insurance companies that sell policies in the state to cover mental illness the same as physical illness. Supporters say it's unfair to treat mental health problems differently than physical health problems. State law already requires insurers to offer options for mental health coverage. But it can come in the form of a pricier policy, and employers don't have to buy it.

- Legislation changing the definition of kidnapping. Under the measure, abducting a child younger than 14 in Missouri could bring a life prison term. It would apply to anyone who confines a child younger than 14 without the consent of a parent.

The measure came about in response to an abduction in February in Benton County. A one-month-old boy taken from his rural western Missouri home was found unharmed in Kansas City later the same day. Prosecutor Karen Woodley charged a suspect with felonious restraint and felony burglary, but couldn't charge kidnapping because current law requires intent to harm the victim or seek.

Child Pornography
- Legislation toughening penalties for possessing child pornography and for other sex offenses. Possession of child porn would become a felony, punishable by four years in prison. The current penalty is up to one year in jail.

The measure would also prohibit anyone convicted of incest, possession of child porn or other sexual offenses involving minors from moving to within 1,000 feet of a school or child-care facility.

Legislation Still Needing Final Approval
- The Senate sent the House a bill to substantially increase penalties for violating the open meetings and records law. That's the law that requires public bodies to meet in open.

- The Senate gave the House a bill that would allow law enforcement officers to stop motorists simply for failing to wear a seat belt. Police right now have to pull someone over for another offense to write a seat belt citation.

Confederate Flag
- Wildwood Republican Rep. Jack Jackson ended his attempt to raise the Confederate flag at two Missouri historical sites. He was opposed by lawmakers concerned that the measure would send a negative message. Jackson said he laid aside his bill at the request of Speaker Catherine Hanaway.

About one dozen Democrats were standing up to debate him, and it was clear the discussion would have taken a long time.

Last year, Natural Resources director Stephen Mahfood ordered the removal of Confederate flags that had long flown over the Confederate Memorial State Historic Site at a Higginsville Cemetery, and the Fort Davidson State Historic Site in Pilot Knob.

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