Much of the work done by the Missouri House and Senate from January to May finally became law as many of the bills approved by the legislature and signed by the governor officially took effect on Aug. 28. It was during the 2019 legislative session that the House and Senate combined to send 92 pieces of legislation across the finish line.

Of the bills sent to the governor, 46 originated in the Senate and 29 started in the House, with an additional 17 appropriations bills originally filed in the House as well. The governor went on to sign the bulk of the bills into law, but did veto two bills from the House, as well as four from the Senate.

As of Aug. 28, many of the bills signed by the governor now have the force of law. One important piece of legislation that is now law creates economic incentives meant to create and retain jobs and implements a workforce development program to train Missourians to fill jobs in areas of high need.

Other bills going into effect will protect some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens, make substantive reforms to Missouri’s criminal justice system, and improve the state’s legal climate.

During the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers approved the Missouri Stands for the Unborn Act, which is one of the strongest pro-life bills in the nation. While part of the bill is now law, a federal judge has temporarily blocked the provision that bans abortions at eight weeks or after.

The ruling is the result of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and the ACLU that challenged the law’s constitutionality. In making his ruling, the federal judge wrote, “the legislation on its face conflicts with the Supreme Court ruling that neither legislative nor judicial limits on abortion can be measured by specified weeks or development of a fetus; instead, ‘viability’ is the sole test for a state’s authority to prohibit abortions where there is no maternal health issue.”

The judge did allow a portion of the bill to stand that bans abortions based solely on race, sex or a diagnosis indicating the potential of Down Syndrome. The new law also requires referrals for out-of-state abortions to include the same informed consent materials that are required for an abortion performed in Missouri. Additionally, the new law will modify the definition for pregnancy resource centers with the goal of increasing access and safety for women.

The judge’s ruling can be appealed and the attorney general’s office is currently reviewing the judge’s decision in order to determine what steps to take next.

Jim Neely, R-Cameron, represents the 8th District in the Missouri House. District 8 starts at the northern city limits of Smithville and Kearney and includes Holt. Neely can be reached at 573-751-0246 or Jim.Neely@house.mo.gov.

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