We have many people that are Pillars of our Community. As a child, there are a handful of those that I remember my parents always talking about. As I reached adulthood, those same people still are respected and brought up in conversations. We lost two of them this week. Bob Dunard and Betty Hunter are two names I remember from earliest childhood. Both contributed greatly to our community through service and generosity. Mostly I think, just being good people, and raising good families. Both are leaving legacies that will be remembered long into the future.
This coming Wednesday is a holiday of such great importance, but sometimes that is overshadowed by fireworks, family and fellowship. While all of those things are important, the reason we are able to enjoy them is even more important. Most refer to it as the Fourth of July, but the people of this great nation cannot and should not forget its true designation as Independence Day.
This special day is far more than just another on the calendar, or a reason to take time off from work. It is recognition of the battles fought; the lives given; and the peace that was forged in order to form a more perfect union. It is a celebration of all that makes America great and a reminder that the freedoms that define this nation were hard-earned, and require the continued commitment of the American people to maintain. We are the greatest nation on earth and we have so many reasons to be truly thankful for all we have, not only on Independence Day, but on each and every day the United States continues to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.
I was happy to see the following bills signed into law by the Governor.
Protecting Victims of Sexual Offenses (SB 819)
Missouri will no longer have a statute of limitations on the prosecution of sex crimes against children under a bill that has already been signed into law.
The legislation contains a number of provisions including one that removes Missouri’s statute of limitations in criminal cases involving such crimes.
Missouri’s statutes had blocked prosecution of these crimes once 30 years had passed after the alleged victim turned 18.
As the sponsor said, “It was brought to my attention that often these [crimes] are suppressed by the victims, and particularly in the case of young men or boys. They don’t want to talk about it; they can actually repress those memories and not [be] able to remember that these things occurred until much later in life. To have that statute of limitations appeared to me to be denying some victims their opportunities to ultimately have the perpetrator brought to justice.”
Supporters say cases of abuse against a child might go unreported for years. They hope the passage of the new law and coverage of it will also encourage some people to come forward who might not have otherwise. They note that more than 30 other states have no statute of limitation for child sexual abuse prosecutions.
The sponsor of the bill added, “It is a victory for these victims of child sex crimes and if it helps, in any way, their recovery, it certainly is a worthwhile effort, and for that I’m grateful that we were able to get it done.”
The bill also includes language that will allow prosecutors to pursue cases within 30 years of the identification of the source of DNA found at a crime scene, even if the statute of limitations on that crime might otherwise have run out. It will only apply to cases for which that identification is made after the bill takes effect, on August 28.
I was happy to see
Taking Additional Steps to Protect Children (SB 819)
The legislation that removes the statute of limitations on the prosecution of sex crimes against children also contains several other provisions meant to better protect young people from harm. The wide-ranging bill takes a multi-faceted approach to ensure the health and well-being of children throughout Missouri.
One provision of the bill would ensure the state acts quickly to protect children when a parent pleads guilty or is convicted of crimes such as child pornography or child molestation. Previously, Missouri law left the decision on how to act in the situation to the state’s discretion and did not require an automatic referral to the court system. The bill approved this session requires a juvenile officer or an official with the state’s Children’s Division to file a petition to terminate parental rights if the parent pleads guilty or is convicted of these heinous crimes. With this, the state will be able to act quickly and decisively to protect young people from potentially dangerous situations.
Another of the bill’s provisions would facilitate better communication and sharing of information with child
Friday I will be traveling to Jefferson City as the Governor signs SB 659 into law. We attached my state park bill language to it, as a vehicle to get it across the finish line. It doesn’t quite have the teeth I was hoping for, but it is a good start to accountability. To be honest, I can say the new DNR and State Parks Director are doing a very good job. They seem to have good common sense ideas.
Last, but not least, I want to give a shout out to Terry Tolando. He makes this job a lot easier with his encouraging voice messages. Although he is in Representative Cornejo’s district, he still calls me to applaud my work!
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-9459. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to hearing from you.