We had another busy week last week. The House debated and passed 37 bills, most of which will not make it through the Senate.

We had another busy week last week. The House debated and passed 37 bills, most of which will not make it through the Senate.
Some of this is intentional as bills need quite a bit of refining before we consider making them part of statute. We also have to deal with the time issue. It takes quite a while to move a bill through the process.
House and Senate leaders are charged with the job of deciding which legislation has priority and making sure it moves first. We identified certain issues as caucus priorities last fall. These bills are given extra attention. For the most part they are controversial issues and take up a lot of time in committee, as well as on the floor for debate.
HB 2069, which deals with record keeping and proper disposal of fetal remains after an abortion, is a good example. Even though it passed with only 35 no votes, there was some spirited debate.
The bill prohibits fetal remains from an abortion being sold or donated for medical research. There are provisions for testing for abnormalities and disease, but it would halt the process of baby parts being used for experiments. It requires abortion clinics to keep accurate records of how the remains are disposed of and by whom and makes those records available.
HB 1811 dealing with “breed specific” dog ordinances passed by a large margin. This bill keeps municipalities from banning one particular breed of dog. Some examples were given of owners having to get DNA samples to prove that their animal was not one of the targeted species.
HB 2332 deals with a problem that ranchers have had forever. It proposes to exempt a livestock owner of liability if an animal gets out of a fenced area through no fault of the owner. If an act of God happens (tree falling on a fence), a car drives through the fence or vandals cut the fence, the rancher couldn’t be held responsible.
HB 1943 seeks to redefine the “school term” to a specific number of hours, not days. This would allow school districts to choose to extend their hours to enable a later start in the fall or an earlier out in the spring. It also deals with caps on the foundation formula.
We passed several bills dealing with children. HB 2379 provided for dyslexia screening in schools, HB 2605 allows foster children 14 and older to be consulted before changing their status. HB 2202 prohibits disclosure of exam results in child abuse cases without a court order.
All bills and legislative action can be viewed at house.mo.gov by clicking on “bill tracking” and filling in the bill number. Bills also can be accessed by using the sponsor’s name or by subject.
One of the big challenges left for us is SJR 39. This bill would put a religious freedom question on the ballot.
The Senate passed the measure after a 39-hour filibuster. I heard it in committee on Tuesday evening. We started the hearing at 7:30 p.m. and it lasted until 2 a.m.
It basically states that no one can be compelled by force of government to go against his or her religious beliefs. The state cannot impose penalties on individuals who refuse to provide goods or services based on their sincere religious beliefs.
We heard compelling testimony from both sides of the argument for several hours. I made a closing statement and said that for 12 committee members to decide on this issue would be the height of arrogance and that is needs to be decided by voters. We probably will debate it next week.
On Friday was a highway dedication honoring the David Thurman family. Last week was the 25th anniversary of his sacrifice in law enforcement.

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