Representative Ed Lewis's Capitol Report

March 21, 2022

No Patient Left Alone Act Passes House

This week we passed the No Patient Left Alone Act, a bill I sponsored with four other legislators, from the house by a vote of 120 Aye and 27 No. This bill requires hospitals and nursing homes to allow a visitor and an advocate for a person receiving treatment in a hospital or living in a nursing home. This bill is important for our family members who find themselves in a hospital and nursing home to receive quality care. A person who knows the individual best is the best adovcate and improves the outcomes for the hospitalize individual. No one should be left alone in fear and desperation in a hospital or nursing home even in the time of pandemic.

Missouri House Concludes Productive First Half of Session- Overview and summary

The members of the Missouri House of Representatives completed the first half of the legislative session with a flurry of activity that resulted in the passage of several legislative priorities.

The priorities passed during the final week before the break join a long list of legislative accomplishments produced by the House. So far during the 2022 legislative session, we have approved approve bills giving parents more control over their children’s educational options, protecting the rights of patients to have visitors, and safeguarding the integrity of the elections process, bills to protect Missourians from burdensome mandates, to prevent efforts to defund law enforcement, to strengthen the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners, to support and promote Missouri agriculture, and to provide increased funding to the state’s K-12 education system. House Members also approved a new congressional map based on the latest Census data, backed efforts to reform Missouri’s initiative process, and supported proposed reforms for the state’s Medicaid program. In total, the House approved and sent nearly 40 pieces of legislation to the Senate before the break.

During the final 8 weeks of session, we will focus our efforts on approving the Fiscal Year 2023 state operating budget. The state spending plan must be approved by both the House and Senate by Friday, May 6. The House and Senate will work to pass as many legislative priorities as possible before the session concludes on Friday, May 13.

A summary of some bills approved by the House during the first half of the 2022 legislative session include:

No Patient Left Alone Act -Sponsors Rep. Rusty Black, Rep. Ed Lewis, Rep. Mitch Boggs and Rep. Brian Seitz (HB 2116)– Legislation approved before the break advocates for patients and protects their right to have visits from loved ones during a hospital stay. The House approved this combined bill that would empower a patient to designate at least three essential support persons, in addition to a spouse or legal guardian, and allow the spouse or guardian and at least one support person to be with the patient at all times during their stay. The bill also includes that long-term care facilities will allow compassionate care visitation as needed by the resident.

Protecting Missourians’ Freedoms (HB 1686 and HB 2358 & 1485) - The Missouri House approved two bills designed to protect Missourians from mandates that would take away their right to decide whether to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. HB 1686 would make it clear that public entities such as government agencies and public schools cannot require a COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment. Additionally, it reaffirms an employee’s right to raise a religious objection to receiving a vaccination. HB 2358 & 1485 clearly affirms the right of an employee to receive an exemption from a COVID-19 vaccine requirement if the employee requests one based on certain sincerely held beliefs.

Missouri Religious Freedom Protection Act (HB 1713) - Missourians would have their right to gather for religious services further protected under legislation approved by the Missouri House of Representatives. House members approved the Missouri Religious Freedom Protection Act, which is in part a response to the closures of places of worship that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the bill, no public official could issue an order that has the effect of limiting or prohibiting a religious group or place of worship from holding religious services or meetings.

Protecting the Rights of Those in Need of Organ Transplants (HB 1861) – The House took action during the first half of the session to ensure Missourians in need of lifesaving organ transplants aren’t denied a transplant because of their political, religious, or philosophical differences. HB 1861 provides that no hospital, physician, procurement organization, or other person may consider COVID-19 vaccination status of a potential organ transplant recipient or donor at any stage in organ transplant processing.

Preventing Efforts to Defund Law Enforcement (HB 1986) - House members have passed legislation this session designed to ensure the Kansas City Police Department receives the funding it needs. HB 1986 is a response to efforts by the city to remove $42 million from a previously-agreed-upon budget for the department. The goal of the bill is to ensure the city is not able to artificially manipulate its general fund in order to cut the budget for the Kansas City Police Department.

Strengthening the Second Amendment Rights of Missouri Citizens (HB 1462) - This session the House has approved legislation that will expand and strengthen the rights of law-abiding gun owners in Missouri. The core provision of the bill would allow a concealed carry permit holder to lawfully carry firearms on public transportation. The bill also contains a provision known as Blair’s Law that will criminalize in state statute what’s known as “celebratory gunfire.” Additionally, the bill would lower the age requirement from 19 to 18 years of age or older for a concealed carry permit and remove the prohibition on the carrying of firearms in churches and other places of worship by a person with a valid concealed carry permit.

Addressing the Substitute Teacher Shortage- Sponsor Rep Ed Lewis (HB 2304) - The House approved legislation increase the number of substitutes that are available to schools. HB 2304 would provide a four-year certificate for individuals who want to substitute teach. Under the bill, applicants for certification must complete a background check which can be distributed to up to five schools. An applicant to substitute teach could be certificated by having at least 36 college hours or have completed a 20 hour online training. The bill also requires individuals to have a high school diploma or equivalence. Additionally, the bill provides an alternative route to certification for qualified individuals with technical or business expertise or Armed Forces experience and a superintendent sponsorship. This bill passed with an emergency clause allowing it to go into effect as soon as it is passed by the Senate and signed into law by the Governor.

Public School Open Enrollment Act (HB 1814) – Legislation approved by the House this session is designed to make students and their families the center of the state’s educational focus by allowing inter-district transfers in the public school system. HB 1814 would create the Public School Open Enrollment Act to improve quality instruction and increase parental involvement, provide access to programs and classes, and offer opportunities to align parental curriculum options to personal beliefs. The bill would allow any student beginning kindergarten or already enrolled in a public school may attend a public school in any nonresident district. If signed into law, it would add Missouri to the list of more than 40 states that have open enrollment.

School Protection Officers (HB 1481) – Schools would have more discretion for how they are able to designate school protection officers under legislation approved by the House. Currently, school districts may designate teachers or administrators to be school protection officers. HB 1481 adds other designated school personnel to the list of employees a school district may designate as a school protection officer. The bill would give schools the discretion to find the best person in their school district to be designated as a school protection officer.

Congressional Redistricting (HB 2117) - The members of the Missouri House approved legislation that will establish new boundaries for Missouri’s eight congressional districts. The map approved by the House of Representatives was created with input from legislators representing their constituents, public testimony from citizens across the state of Missouri, and 2020 census data. The map contains compact and contiguous districts as required by the constitution while also keeping communities of interest and like-mindedness together.

Enhancing Election Integrity (HJR 94) – This legislation passed by the House this session would reinstate a voter ID requirement that was approved by voters but struck down by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2020. The proposed constitutional amendment would ensure Missourians present a photo ID when they go to vote, but will also allow people without a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot. In order for the provisional ballot to be counted, election officials would have to verify the voter’s signature based on voter records, or the voter would need to return later that day with a valid form of identification.

Initiative Petition Reform (HJR 79 and HJR 92) – The House has approved two constitutional amendments that would give voters the option to reform Missouri’s initiative petition process. Both proposals are commonsense reforms that preserve the right of every Missourian to petition their government, while aligning the state’s initiative petition process with the United States Constitution. The amendments, if approved by voters, will require a two-thirds majority vote at the ballot to change the Missouri Constitution. HJR 79 and HJR 91 also propose a change to the requirements to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Currently, an initiative petition requires signatures from 8% of voters in six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts to qualify for the ballot. HJR 79 would require signatures from 10% of voters in all eight congressional districts. HJR 91 would require 8% of voters in all eight congressional districts. HJR 91 would also implement an approval process by the General Assembly for proposed changes to the constitution.

Supporting the Creation of New Businesses and New Jobs (HB 1590) - House members have worked this session to support the development of new businesses and promote economic growth in Missouri. The House approved HB 1590, which creates the Right-to-Start Act and provides tax cuts to new businesses. Under HB 1590, the Right-to-Start Act would require the Office of Administration to compile a report each year that would detail key information on new businesses in the state. The report would be provided to the General Assembly, which would utilize it for guidance in creating new policy to encourage business and job growth. The bill also provides tax cuts to new businesses that are meant to allow these businesses to keep more money in their pockets so they can continue to grow. The bill would also create the Office of Entrepreneurship within the Department of Economic Development. The office would work to promote policies and initiatives to support the growth of entrepreneurship in the state.

Promoting Missouri Agriculture (HB 1720) - The members of the Missouri House have approved legislation that will renew key programs designed to support and promote agriculture in the state. The bill would extend existing credits available under the Missouri Agricultural and Small Business Development Authority, which has supported projects in 103 counties that have generated direct and indirect benefits of more than $260 million since 2000. The bill also expands the Family Farm Livestock Loan Program so that more Missouri farmers will qualify. Additionally, it creates the Ethanol Retailers Incentive, extends the Wood Energy Tax Credit, and ensures the soybean producers’ assessment, also known as the soybean checkoff, continues at the state level even if the program is discontinued at the national level.

Supplemental Funding Plan (HB 3014) – The General Assembly has passed and the Governor has given final approval to a supplemental spending plan that will provide extra funding for K-12 schools and the state’s Medicaid program, as well as a pay increase for state employees. The plan authorizes nearly $4.6 billion in funding to be utilized in the current fiscal year that ends in June. The bill includes more than $2.2 billion in funding for K-12 schools in Missouri, and more than $1.5 billion in funding for the state’s MO HealthNet program. The bill also allocates nearly $99 million for a pay increase for all state workers to help retain and attract talented employees.

Medicaid Reform (HJR 117) - A proposed constitutional amendment approved by the House would allow voters to decide if key reforms should be enacted for the state’s growing Medicaid program. HJR 117 would ask voters if three key changes should be made to the Medicaid program in Missouri. One proposed change contained in the measure would clarify the legislature’s authority to appropriate based on population. In effect it would allow lawmakers to decide whether to appropriate funds for the Medicaid expansion population. Another provision in the proposed change to the constitution would put work and community engagement requirements in place for Medicaid recipients ages 19 to 64. They would be required to work at least 80 hours each month, or participate in education, job skills training, community service, or other alternatives. The proposal would exempt individuals with disabilities or serious medical conditions, as well as pregnant individuals and primary caregivers for young children or dependent adults. The final component of HJR 117 would ensure Missouri’s Medicaid benefits are provided only to residents of the state.

Providing Direct Access to Physical Therapy (HB 1555) - Missourians would have their access to important health care services expanded under legislation approved this session by the Missouri House of Representatives. Lawmakers approved HB 1555 to give Missourians direct access to physical therapy without the need for a referral from a doctor. Under the bill, physical therapists would no longer need a prescription or referral from a doctor in order to evaluate and initiate treatment on a patient, as long as the physical therapist has a doctorate of physical therapy degree or has five years of clinical practice as a physical therapist.

Protecting the Rights of Belief-Based Student Groups (HB 1724) - Belief-based student groups on college campuses would have their rights protected under legislation approved by the Missouri House. Lawmakers approved HB 1724 to protect these groups from being discriminated against because of their sincerely held beliefs. The bill would prohibit public institutions of higher learning from taking any action or enforcing any policy that denies a belief-based student association benefits available to other student associations. The bill also prohibits discrimination against a belief-based student association based on its requirement that leaders of the association adhere to its sincerely held beliefs, sincere practice requirements, or standards of conduct.

Showing Support for Ukraine (HR 3658) – Members of the House gave overwhelming bipartisan approval to a resolution expressing support for Ukraine and its people, and condemning Russia’s attack on the sovereign nation. The resolution calls Russia’s invasion “unprovoked and unjustified” and notes it is the “largest invasion of a sovereign nation in Europe since World War II.” HR 3658 condemns the attack in the strongest possible terms and strongly endorses swift and severe economic sanctions and stringent export controls on Russia. Additionally, the resolution urges Russia to “immediately cease its violent, illegal, and immoral assault upon Ukraine, end the needless bloodshed, and return to diplomacy and the rules-based international order that has ensured peace and prosperity for so many.” The resolution also recommends to the President and Congress to reaffirm the unwavering support of the United States for Ukraine’s freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.

On Tuesday, Chief Justice of the Missouri Supreme Court, Paul Wilson delivered the State of the Judiciary.

On Tuesday, I spoke at a press conference for HB 2116, the No Patient Left Alone Act



Oldham Monument