The deadline for the Gov. Jay Nixon to sign or veto bills rapidly is approaching. Consequently, he had a busy week attending formal signing ceremonies.

The deadline for the Gov. Jay Nixon to sign or veto bills rapidly is approaching. Consequently, he had a busy week attending formal signing ceremonies.

Nixon gave his approval to most of the child protection bills that my committee generated last year. For that, I am very grateful.

The Missouri Department of Social Services’ Children’s Division was given authority to take action when it receives a report of a child under 14 exhibiting problem sexual behavior against another child. Prior to this legislation, the division only could investigate allegations against adults or other teens. This will allow the child to get therapy needed to keep this behavior from becoming a lifelong affliction.

The bill also contained language allowing the Office of Child Advocate to audit any judicial circuit that has three or more review requests in a year.

Further, this measure will ensure that all children receive fair and adequate protection throughout the state. Victims of rape and sexual assault will be able to obtain a protection order from their assailants.

Currently, only victims of domestic assault and stalking can obtain these orders. The definition of stalking is changed to include members of the victim’s household.

There also are provisions in the bill to require licensed childcare centers to follow sleep standards recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

All in all, the bills generated by members of my Child Abuse and Neglect Committee will greatly improve the health, safety and well-being of children. I’m grateful to the governor for his signature and extremely proud of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for their strong support.

We are by no means through with our committee’s work. I am holding monthly hearings throughout the interim with the juvenile officer system. Among other things, we are working on standards of practice across the state. We also are very concerned about the amount of turnover within the division and are working on ways to improve working conditions and salaries.

A bill that was signed into law last week helped business owners. Prior to its passage, the state Department of Revenue could change policy on which items sales taxes could be charged. Many businesses, unaware of policy changes, would go several years before suddenly finding during a tax audit that they were liable for large amounts of back taxes and penalties.

The new law requires the department to notify any business that may be affected by policy changes. If businesses are not informed, they won’t be responsible for the taxes.

Due to concerns raised in the aftermath of last summer’s Ferguson unrest, Senate Bill 5 was filed to address limits on how much of a city’s budget can come from traffic fines. It also requires changes in how municipalities operate. This bill caps the amount of money that cities and villages can collect from traffic fines and fees at 12.5 percent in St. Louis County and 20 percent in the rest of the state.

The other big development last week was the Department of Education informing the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) that, as the result of language that Missouri legislators opposing Common Core worked into this year’s budget, the department was prohibited from spending money as a member of SBAC. The Senate budget chairman, Kurt Schaefer, and House budget chair, Tom Flanigan, exhibited great foresight and leadership in accomplishing this task.

Last year, legislators established a working group to establish Missouri-specific standards to replace those being forced upon us by Common Core. Many of us look at Common Core efforts as being continued overreach of the administration and its one-size-fits all agenda. The first reports from the working groups are due in a few weeks. I expect we will have recommendations to work with next session.

One last bit of great news is that U.S. Sens. Roy Blunt and Claire McCaskill with the help of U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler forestalled the near closure of Fort Leonard Wood. The Department of Defense had a “listening post” this spring that was attended by over half of the General Assembly.

We were there to support our federal counterparts in asking the department to reconsider the layoff of more than 5,400 service men and women, as well as thousands of civilian staff. This would have had a devastating effect on the area and the state. It feels great to report a successful bipartisan effort of Missouri state and federal representatives and senators.

Bill Lant represents the people of Southwest Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives.