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If a person with interest in behavioral health and substance use related policies were to describe this legislative session, they would probably narrow it down to two words; so close. ACT Missouri tracked 79 of these bills, and only four made it to the Governor’s desk; HB 115 to change airport alcohol sales, HB 336 for life insurance policies to contain suicide exclusions or limitations, SB 52 for suicide prevention and awareness, and SB 139 to establish a Controlled Substance Abuse Prevention Fund, MO RX Cares Program, and modify the MO HealthNet Pharmacy Program.
For the 6th straight year, the Legislature has failed to pass a PDMP. Even though Representative Rehder’s and Senator Schatz’s HB 90, the Narcotics Control Act, had 70 “Actions” mentioned on its activity report, multiple amendments made, compromises proposed, conference committees formed, hundreds of testimonies heard, and the overwhelming support from the members of Safe and Strong Missouri, which includes 33 prominent state healthcare providers and trade associations, 11 law enforcement agencies, 26 employers, and 38 substance use prevention and recovery advocacy groups, it never was “Truly Agreed and Finally Passed”. U.S. Senator McCaskill has asked Governor Greitens to call a special session to get its passage accomplished this year.
Another heartbreaker for prevention and recovery advocates was Rep. Lynch and Sen. Brown’s HB 294, which would provide certain immunities for persons who seek medical assistance for a drug or alcohol overdose. It was set on the Senate calendar, but not called up for a vote. This bill was also referred to as Bailey and Cody’s law, both of whose overdose deaths may have been prevented if friends had not feared legal ramifications and called 911.
A prevention related bill that had some traction was Rep. Pikes’ HB 29 to add powdered alcohol to the existing state statutes; making it illegal to purchase by those under 21. It made it through the House with several other alcohol related bills attached as amendments, was heard in Senate committee, but stalled after that. Similarly, SB 490, requiring healthcare professionals to receive suicide prevention training, and HB 35, modifying admissibility of chemical test results in intoxication proceedings, passed out of their chambers, were heard in the other’s committee, set on the respective calendar, but were not called for a vote.
On the topic of marijuana, five senate and seven house bills were filed pertaining to legalizing marijuana for medicinal or recreational use, allowing hemp cultivation, and expanding hemp oil provisions. The bills that made the most progress were Rep. Curtman’s HB 170, and Rep. Neely’s HB 437. HB 170 would have allowed the Dept. of Agriculture to grow, harvest, and cultivate industrial hemp, was voted do pass out of senate committee. HB 437 would have allowed persons with certain serious medical conditions to use medical cannabis, was voted do pass out of House committee but didn’t make it out of the House Chamber.
Read the final ACT Missouri Bill Tracking Report.
ACT Missouri would like to thank everyone for your advocacy efforts this session, especially those that came to Jefferson City to share stories, provide testimony, and educate legislators on the importance of behavioral health policies. It is concerned citizens like you that truly make a difference. If you are interested in becoming involved in advocacy, you can sign up to receive our legislative reports, request copies of our Speak Up, Speak Out, Speak Hard Handbook, and attend our future trainings. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up!