Gov. Jay Nixon today signed into law four bills passed by the Missouri General Assembly. The Governor signed:
- Senate Bill 54, which protects children from sexual misconduct by a teacher. It requires any school employee who learns of reported sexual misconduct by a teacher or other school personnel to report that allegation to their superintendent and the Missouri Department of Social Services within 24 hours. School districts must immediately suspend any employee whom the Missouri Department of Social Services returns substantiated findings of allegations of sexual misconduct.
Additionally, this legislation requires all school districts to provide information about former employees to other public school districts, including findings of substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct. Districts may be held liable for failing to disclose information about an employee that was dismissed or resigned due to substantiated allegations.
This legislation also prohibits registered sex offenders from serving on local school boards; strengthens criminal background checks on school bus drivers; requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to conduct annual background checks of certified teachers; and requires school districts to adopt written policies by July 1, 2012 regarding teacher-student communication addressing electronic media, social networking and various other forms of communication.
- Senate Bill 250, which requires all sexual assault offenders to complete sex offender treatment programs prior to being eligible for parole or conditional release.
This legislation also prohibits any person registered with the Missouri Sexual Offender Program from living within 1,000 feet of any public or private k-12 school or state-regulated childcare facility. This provision is in response to a case in which a registered sex offender moved into a duplex near a church-affiliated daycare in November 2009. Because the daycare was regulated by the state but not licensed, state law did not prohibit the sex offender from taking up residence near the daycare. In February 2010, the offender was charged with multiple felony counts, including kidnapping, rape and forcible sodomy.
- House Bill 137, which repeals the authority of certain state university boards to convey or transfer property without authorization from the General Assembly, and authorizes the Governor to convey certain state properties.
- House Bill 641, which criminalizes the sale of bath salts and other types of synthetic marijuana. It also makes those substances a schedule 1 illegal substance with criminal penalties the same as those for marijuana. Substances falling into the "synthetic cannabinoid" category include 'K2', 'K3' and 'Bath Salts', among others.
This provides law enforcement with a new tool to stay ahead of criminals, by eliminating the need to seek new legislation each time a new derivative of these drugs is developed. Any cannabinoid compound that is developed in the future will fall under this new definition.
In addition, the Governor's office announced today that House Bill 423 will be allowed to take effect pursuant to Article 3, Section 31 of the Missouri Constitution.
- House Bill 423 authorizes Missouri, subject to federal approval, to adopt the provisions of the Health Care Compact.
"Every Missourian should have access to quality, affordable medical care, and it's vital that every health-care dollar is spent wisely," Gov. Nixon said. "House Bill 423, which passed with bipartisan support, reflects the shared principle of greater flexibility for Missouri. But such flexibility can't be at the expense of limiting access to health care funding for Missourians. The bill also requires federal approval, and unless and until that happens, it will have no practical effect on the key issues of health care access, affordability and efficiency.
"We will continue to work together on both sides of the aisle and in both houses to improve health care access and affordability for all Missourians," the Governor said. "Specifically, we need to pass legislation next session - similar to legislation that passed the House unanimously and had bipartisan support in the Senate last session - which would establish a transparent, state-run health insurance exchange giving individuals, families and businesses better access to affordable, efficient, quality health care.''