Two pieces of legislation to protect children that were handled and supported by State Rep. Bill Lant (R-Pineville) were signed into law Wednesday, July 8.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon signed both SB 321 and SB 341 during a brief ceremony in St. Joseph at the St. Joseph Youth Alliance.
“These are important strides forward to promote the health, safety, and well-being of young people in all parts of our state,” said Lant, who serves as chairman of the Joint Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect.
“I want to thank the governor for signing these bills into law, and applaud my colleagues for the strong bipartisan support they gave to these changes during the 2015 legislative session.”
Lant handled SB 321 on the House floor during the 2015 legislative session. The bill addresses an oversight in Missouri law that has prevented victims of rape and sexual assault from obtaining an order of protection against their assailants.
Missouri’s existing law regarding orders of protection has been limited to victims of domestic violence and stalking victims. The bill also expands the definition of stalking to include unwanted activity directed toward the members of the victim’s household.
Lant also supported and added amendments to SB 341, which takes several steps to ensure young people in Missouri are raised in safe and healthy environments. The language from Lant’s HB 713 was added to give the Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Services authority to take action when it receives a report of a child under 14 with problem sexual behavior exhibiting inappropriate behavior against another child. Current law allows the division to investigate only abuse allegations against adults and other teens.
Lant also added language similar to that in HB 1074, which he sponsored, that allows the Office of the Child Advocate to audit any judicial circuit that has three or more review requests in a year.
Lant said the change will allow the office to conduct reviews to ensure that all children receive adequate protection throughout the state.
SB 341 also requires licensed child care centers to follow current safe sleep standards recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children under the age of one. In addition, the bill requires all public, private, and parochial day care centers, preschools, and nursery schools to notify parents or guardians, upon request, of whether there are children at the facility with an immunization exemption.
With the governor’s signature, both bills are now set to become law on Aug. 28.