Report from the 62nd District

Support for legislation to protect voting process, childrens’ welfare

BY State Rep. Bruce Sassmann, Missouri’s 62nd District
Posted 3/31/21

This week, the Missouri House of Representatives re-convened after our usual mid-session break.

We voted on a number of important bills, and I had many productive meetings with constituents and …

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Report from the 62nd District

Support for legislation to protect voting process, childrens’ welfare

Posted

This week, the Missouri House of Representatives re-convened after our usual mid-session break.

We voted on a number of important bills, and I had many productive meetings with constituents and colleagues.

My office also contacted members of the community to congratulate them on noteworthy accomplishments. Congratulations to:

• Jesse Hughes on his record-setting catch,

• Fatima High School’s Boys Wrestling Team on their fourth-place championship finish,

• Mr. & Mrs. Howard Brandt for 70 years of marriage, and,

• Harold Hibler for retiring after serving as a volunteer Owensville firefighter for 48 years.

This week, I voted to support HB 738, a bill designed to further protect the integrity of our state’s elections.

The bill authorizes the Secretary of State to audit voter registration lists and require election authorities to remove improper names. This change is necessary to ensure that our county voter registration lists only have accurate and up-to-date information.

Beginning Jan, 1, 2022, it requires the use of a paper ballot and repeals electronic voting system language with certain exceptions for voting equipment used for the disabled. It allows use of absentee ballots without stating a reason beginning the third Tuesday before an election provided that photo identification is provided or other exceptions are met. The bill also specifies photographic identification requirements for voting a regular ballot, but allows use of provisional ballots with any type of documentation currently allowed for voting.

Most of the measures are designed to combat actual problems and attempts at fraud personally witnessed by the sponsor in past years. The use of hand-marked paper ballots will greatly help in securing elections and providing an audit trail.

Photographic identification provisions are modified in accordance with court rulings so that they can be implemented.

The bill will provide assurance to the general public that Missouri elections will not be questioned in the same way as other state elections.

I also voted in support of HB 627, a bill that would establish a children’s savings account program.

The bill provides to parents of any qualified children born or adopted after Jan. 1, 2021, and a Missouri resident at time of birth, a scholarship grant of $100 in a savings account known as the Missouri Education Savings Program. This bill allows students to use money through the fund to help pay for higher education and the expenses that follow.

Importantly, the bill means that students are much more likely to open a 529 account as well and start saving otherwise, which promotes financial literacy and allows students to plan for the future.

The bill accomplishes this goal without dramatically increasing state expenses. The bill also improves health outcomes for students and families by removing financial strain and its consequences.

Finally, I voted in favor of legislation that seeks to protect newborns from potential abuse.

HB 432, also known as the Birth Match Program, requires data sharing between state departments that would better allow the state to offer prevention and crisis management support to families who may need it.

The bill orders data sharing between the Children’s Division of the Department of Social Services and the State Registrar’s office to compare birth reports with reports of parents who have been convicted of certain crimes — or have a termination of parental rights in order — to ensure the safety of the child and provide services, if needed.

Local Children’s Division personnel will then initiate contact with the family, or make a good faith effort to do so, to determine if the parent or family has a need for services and provide such voluntary and time-limited services as appropriate to help the family. The bill is now under consideration in the Senate.

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