Keeping Kids Safe
Sponsored HB 1491 Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting
What this bill did: It changed MO law regarding the process for reporting suspected child abuse or neglect. Any mandated reporter who suspects child abuse or neglect must call the MO Hotline directly, not report up the chain of command.
Why the change was needed: MO law allowed a report to be made to someone else within an organization, not directly to the MO Hotline. This was the same policy that protected Jerry Sandusky at Penn State for many years. The Governor’s Task Force on the Prevention of Child Sex Abuse made this change their top priority in order to add more protection for children.
Sponsored HB 2202 Evidence (passed in to law as an amendment to HB 1562)
What this bill did: It provided protection for forensic evidence collected in a child sex abuse investigation. All oral, video and photographic evidence used in a prosecution can be copied only after a court order is obtained. Evidence is accessible, but copies are limited by a judge and must be returned or destroyed at the conclusion of a trial. This evidence is not accessible through a sunshine request.
Why this change was needed: Current law did not protect this extremely personal evidence. A CD copy of evidence was found in the Jefferson County parking lot, and in other instances files were available on the internet. Kids who have the courage to trust adults and undergo a forensic exam deserve to have this evidence is protected.
Sponsored HB 640 Modifies SNAP Waiver (passed into law as an amendment to SB 24)
What this bill did: It brought MO law into compliance with Federal Law regarding the length of time an able bodied adult without dependents could receive food stamp benefits without having a 30 hour per week job, participating in job training, enrolled in school or doing volunteer work.
Why this change was needed: The MO Department of Social Services obtained a waiver from the Federal Government Food Stamp Program allowing these recipients to receive benefits for an unlimited amount of time, with no work requirement.
Sponsored HB 1795 Modifies Provisions Relating to Public Assistance Programs (passed as an amendment in SB 607)
What this bill did: This bill requires the Department of Social Services to enter into a contract with a third party vendor to verify each welfare recipient qualifies for the services they are receiving. Timely verification will be processed as needed, depending on the recipients benefits. The Department will have the final determination regarding benefits of a recipient.
Why this change was needed: The right people need to receive the right benefits at the right time. Welfare fraud is draining federal and state funds that could be used to help citizens when they need it the most. If someone moves out of state, dies or is in prison, it often takes months, if not years to detect services should be discontinued. Entering into a public/private partnership for the verification process will reduce fraud, waste and abuse of the system intended to be a safety net for people in need. These vendors have access data bases not available to the state. By making sure those who receive benefits actually qualify for those benefits can and will save the state tens of millions of dollars, as it has in other states who have contracted with these vendors.
Oversight for spending: Working with the state budget.
By asking the right questions, studying budget books, and spending countless hours learning about health care policy as it relates to the budget, I have been entrusted to oversee appropriations for five state departments, well over half of the annual spending for Missouri. In 2013 & 2014 I was appointed Appropriations Chair for Public Safety and Corrections, and am currently Appropriations Chair for Health, Mental Health & Social Services.
I am the “go to” person in the Missouri House in regards to Medicaid policy and spending. This is the issue that will make or break our state finances. If resources for education, transportation and public safety are important to you, Medicaid spending matters and expanding an inefficient program is NOT the answer regardless of what others will tell you. It’s not going to keep poorly managed hospitals in business, create the thousands of jobs, or solve all health care issues. You don’t have to look very far to see the broken promises states that took federal money to expand their Medicaid program now face. Instead, leaders in Missouri are working to implement solutions that improve outcomes for Medicaid recipients that are sustainable.
From my first day as a legislator until now, I have been on the Budget Committee. It’s from this work that I have been able to find funding for needed improvements in areas such as mental health, substance abuse, additional counseling for abused children, expanded currier service for newborn screening, autism services in the St. Louis area, just to name a few. These small victories are never written about in the media, but I know I accomplished them and will continue to advocate for positive results on issues important to you.
Did you know that until I perused a change in policies in the Department of Corrections, inmates were not paying sales tax on any items purchased in prisons, including gum, candy, soda, cigarettes or even televisions? It was a small detail buried in a budget book that I paid attention to resulting in multi millions of dollars now being collected. Prison canteens are also now reimbursing the state for their employees and benefits.