Ever wonder what the folks you elect to state office are doing for you?  From extended marijuana reform to increased witness protections, here’s a quick look at some of the bills introduced by Kansas City legislators.  

Strictly judging by the number of bills introduced through the first month of the 2019 Missouri Legislative session, by all means, Kansas City’s African-American legislators are serious about making change that will have a positive impact for their constituents.

Quantity, doesn’t always relate to quality, but a quick perusal of the nearly 50 legislative bills proposed by the Kansas City members of the Missouri Black Legislative Caucus, they’re hard at work on the real needs and issues of their constituents.

The bills sponsored by Sen. Shalonn “Kiki” Curls and Reps. Barbara Washington, Jerome Barnes, Ashley Bland Manlove, Richard Brown, Brandon Ellington and DaRon McGee cover crime and safety, economics, transportation, voting rights, education, drug possession and home ownership, just to name a few.

In this issue, we feature the bills of just three of the seven elected representatives and were only able to cover a selected few of their proposed bills. We tried to focus our coverage on the bills we felt were most relevant to the needs of our readers. Look forward to our Feb. 21 issue for summaries of bills proposed by the legislators not covered in this issue.

Ashley Bland Manlove

HB 670 This bill would require the involvement of a special prosecutor in officer-involved deaths and shootings.

HB 731 Instead of having to register to vote, this bill creates automatic voter registration, even for those who are fully discharged from probation, parole, or incarceration without condition.

Barbara Washington

HB 178 Creates a new $5,000 tax credit for first time purchasers of homes in a blighted area that will be used for owner occupancy. The house cannot be purchased from a relative of the claimant or a relative of their spouse, the house must have been empty for six months and been designated as blighted or in violation of codes from the governing body.

HB 276 Modifies the state’s voter registration laws so that the secretary of state cannot remove a registered voter from the system due to inactivity until they have not voted for five calendar years and requires the secretary of state to mail the person a notice before their name is removed.

HB 292 Requires the court to expunge the conviction of any person convicted of possession of 35 grams or less of marijuana. This law applies to conviction from Dec. 31, 1997 going forward into the future.

HB 440 Requires the Department of Health and Senior Services to give certified minority- and women-owned businesses a 10% scoring advantage for applications for medical marijuana-related businesses, and requires the department to take into consideration any policy implemented by the political subdivision in which the applicant shall be located that is designed to promote, increase, or maintain the participation of minority business enterprises and women’s business enterprises in that political subdivision.

HB 635 Requires the state demographer to use last known permanent place of residence for counting inmates when reapportioning state house and senate districts

Brandon Ellington

Rep Ellington has been especially busy. This only represents about one-half of the bills he introduced. We’ll pick up with more of his bills in our Feb. 21 issue.

HB 144 This bill, the Customer Utility Protection Act limits the amount public utilities can charge a customer for restoration of services or for services after a customer’s services have been restored. The bills allows a one-time maximum fee for service restoration of $20 and allows the company to charge a customer whose service has been discontinued and reconnected no more than an extra $5 per month for 12 months after their service has been restored. It also sets the maximum amount a customer can be required to pay to restore their service to 10% of the balance owed.

HB 147 Repeals provisions that prohibit students who are unlawfully present in the United States from receiving postsecondary education public benefits

HB 149 Requires the Department of Revenue to include in the Missouri Driver Guide educational material on driver’s rights in police stops and searches by law enforcement. Examples of information to be added to the driver’s guide are: the right to remain silent; the right to refuse to consent to a search of yourself and your car; and the right, if you are not under arrest, to calmly leave.

HB 150 This bill takes considerable steps to strengthen Missouri’s existing law relating to racial profiling, searches and seizures and traffic stops. One of the biggest changes is strengthening the procedures and reporting of stops that include searches. Prior to the search, the proposed legislation requires the peace officer to read a statement that clearly informs individuals they have the right to refuse a search and requires the police officer to complete a form and have the individual sign it verifying that they submit to the search.

HB 151 Allows a victim or witness of a crime to be granted an automatic full order of protection if such victim or witness is fearful of his or her safety

HB 152 Modifies when a person may be eligible for parole if such person was under 21 years of age when the offense was committed and was sentenced after January 1, 1976, to make a person eligible after serving one-third of sentence of 30 years or less and after serving a minimum of 15 years for a sentence of longer than 30 years, including a sentence of life without parole.

HB 153 Designed to help reduce recidivism, this bill requires the Department of Corrections to perform specified actions to improve the ability of working inmates to obtain employment upon release from incarceration. Under this bill, DOC is to review the types of jobs available for inmates while incarcerated to determine which jobs would be eligible for certification and ensure that any inmate who has completed the necessary requirements for certification in a particular field receives the certification. 

For inmates who worked in jobs that aren’t eligible for certification, DOC will issue them a certificate indicating the number of hours the inmate worked or hours of training the inmate received in each job that the inmate held.

Subject to appropriation of funding, allow inmates to participate in the Federal Bonding Program, which bonds employers who hire the formerly incarcerated against risk for the first six months of the person’s employment.

HB 154 Establishes the Missouri Innocence Commission with the goal of decreasing the number of individuals wrongly convicted of crimes in Missouri by reviewing the practices that led to these wrongful convictions and recommending steps to prevent similar incidents in the future.

HB 156 Requires the state by Jan. 1, 2020, to be able to issue driver’s licenses on the same day they are applied for or renewed. Under this law, an applicant’s license will be printed in the individual license office and issued to the applicant at the time of his or her application.

HB 157 – (0464H.01I)

This bill takes a step toward “limited” legalization of marijuana by allowing anyone 21 years of age or older to possess, use, purchase, or transport marijuana weighing less than two ounces; possess, grow, harvest, or process within the interior of the person’s principal residence six or fewer cannabis plants, provided that the total plants for all person living in a house not exceed 12 cannabis plants. The person can legally possess in their home the marijuana produced from these plants.

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