Two years after the Missouri Supreme Court struck down a A similar measure, lawmakers on Thursday passed a bill requiring residents to have photo ID to vote.
“We already have a good system, we just had to make sure it was always better, because Missourians want and deserve to know that their electoral system is trustworthy,” said Rep. John Simmons, R-Washington, sponsor of the law Project.
The requirement, which is part of a larger election bill, passed the House on a 97-47 vote.
In addition to requiring photo ID, the bill allows Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, to review the list of registered voters in any jurisdiction. Electronic voting machines will be banned after 2024, except where a voter with a disability cannot use a paper ballot. These machines, however, would be required to have a paper trail for possible election review.
Additionally, local election officials can no longer accept funding from outside organizations — language aimed at Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who funded two nonprofits that funneled money to county clerks and to electoral commissions in 2020. Zuckerberg say it New York Times in April that the grants were a one-time effort to help officials adjust to holding elections in the event of a pandemic.
Missouri lawmakers also removed all state provisions that made it easier for individuals to vote early in the pandemic.
Democrats were able to secure some of their election-related priorities, including a two-week window for mail-in voting for no reason. But they were furious with their Senate colleagues for not doing more to delay the photo ID.
“It’s a shameful day,” said Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis. “Hopefully we end up having senators with a little more integrity who will stand up and fight.”
Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said he respects the views of his fellow Democrats but finds it difficult to fight what is a top priority for Republicans.
“We didn’t vote for the bill,” he said. “We tried to do the best we could without getting rammed into something absolutely awful, which was a real possibility.”
Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, chastised fellow Republicans for walking away while Democrats spoke out against the measure.
“We’re talking about gutted elections, we’re talking about democracy at its best, the root that our country itself was supposed to be built on, the exact foundation, and that chamber is empty,” she said.
Rights of Sexual Assault Victims
The House also passed a bill granting victims of sexual assault a series of rights. The bill, which largely deals with court proceedings, also contains provisions relating to child sex trafficking and explicit materials provided to students.
Members of the House voted 141-0 to pass the bill, which was the result of a conference committee between the House and the Senate. It now goes to Gov. Mike Parson, having passed the Senate on Tuesday by an equally bipartisan margin.
A previous version of a bill of rights for victims of sexual assault was challenged by public defenders in the state, with the Missouri Supreme Court agreeing that part of the law was unconstitutional.
Under the new legislation, victims of sexual assault would be legally entitled to a number of protections, a change of shower and clothes, a forensic examination and the right to be free from bullying, harassment or abuse in any subsequent civil or criminal proceedings.
In addition, law enforcement officials would be required to report suspected cases of child trafficking to the state’s children’s division. Identifying information of sexual assault victims, such as email addresses, would no longer be subject to open case requests. And people found engaging in prostitution would not face charges as adults if the acts occurred when they were under 18; rather, they would be seen as victims of abuse.
As often at the end of the session, the measure widens; provisions going beyond the protections originally proposed for survivors have been added. This led to a pushback from some senators, who tried to block it from moving forward, saying it violated the state’s Constitutional provision that bills must deal with a single subject.
Sen. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, said she finds it hypocritical that other so-called omnibus measures have not been targeted by the delay tactic.
“For this bill protecting our women, strengthening our laws against abuse and sexual violence. This is the one we want to focus on. I have a problem with that. And I think women in this state have a problem with that as well,” Rehder said.
The underlying bill, which contained the Sexual Assault Victims Bill of Rights, had already run into hurdles when Conservative caucus member Senator Rick Brattin, R-Harrisonville, proposed an amendment to the bill that would would have punished schools that provided obscene material. to students whom a “reasonable person” would find devoid of “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value”.
Democrats called it a “poison pill”, saying it would have led to the banning of books that have value but may be considered obscene.
Brattin’s initial refusal to back down on his amendment, despite Rehder’s request, led to an impromptu bipartisan press conference the following morning against the Conservative caucus, which normally contains seven of the 34-member senators.
The measure sent to Parson includes a lightened version of Brattin’s changes by creating the offense of providing explicit sexual material to a student, defined primarily as visual depictions of sexual activity.
Lawmakers also gave bipartisan approval to the session great education package.
“This bill contains all of the things that are necessary for public education to advance,” said Rep. Paula Brown, D-Hazelwood, a minority member of the House Education Committee. “The Reading Bill is an absolute necessity for children in our schools.”
The main provision requires schools to use a specific curriculum and screening to help students who struggle with reading at the grade level.
“We have ongoing reports of children having reading difficulties,” said Sen. Cindy O’Laughlin, R-Shelbina, who handled the measure in the Senate. “And what we see happening in some cases, not all, is that the school will sometimes say, ‘Oh, well, your student is going to catch up.’ But the student never catches up.
In addition to establishing a literacy program, the bill makes it easier for two districts to share a superintendent to save costs. And in an effort to address the shortage of substitute teachers, the legislation creates a certificate for people with a high school diploma who want to be in the classroom. Retired teachers could also serve as substitutes without the time spent in class affecting their pensions.
There are provisions supporting student mental health, including a requirement that public schools that print student ID cards also have cards with information about suicide and the crisis helpline. The measure also created Holocaust Education Week, though language around black and Native American history was removed.
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