by Taylor Beck
Missourians will see changes to hot topics like school safety, gun regulations and road rules after laws Gov. Jay Nixon signed this summer went into effect on Aug. 28.
School districts can commission police officers to enforce the law on school grounds. This includes on buses, at school events and all other school property. Before this law, only the Blue Springs School District had the authority to hire officers directly.
Districts are encouraged, though not required, to teach the NRA-sponsored Eddie the Eagle Gunsafe Program annually to first grade students. The program promotes safety and protection of children and tells students how to respond if they encounter a firearm.
For soldiers, one new law requires public universities to accept class credit for military courses veterans have already completed. Universities also must offer lower in-state resident tuition for veterans with an honorable discharge from the military.
The state education department must also create guidelines about caring for students with diabetes and a fitness program.
Missourians should expect some changes on the road. A new law will allow drivers to show their proof of insurance to authorities on a phone or mobile device rather than a paper copy.
Another new law will put a heftier fine on speeding in an emergency zone. The law increases penalties for moving violations and traffic offenses in active emergency zones, or a place visibly marked by emergency responders working on or around a highway. A second offense holds a $75 fine.
The new law also makes it a Class C misdemeanor to pass another vehicle in one of these emergency zones. Those who plead guilty or are convicted of this must pay a $250 fine on their first offense and $300 on the second.
Starting Aug. 28, the maximum amount of money from traffic violation fines cities can keep is 30 percent of the city’s budget. Previously, cities could retain up to 35 percent of the city’s budget in fine collections.
Drivers can now speed through yellow lights. A new regulation states a driver cannot get in trouble for being in an intersection when a traffic light turns red as long as they entered the intersection when the light was still yellow.
Medicaid expansion talks filled 2013’s legislative session, but ultimately the Republican-led legislature declined to increase coverage. But one law effective Aug. 28 creates a task force to change Medicaid. House Speaker Tim Jones has already announced two interim committees related to Medicaid, and the state Senate has one panel tackling the topic.
Another health-related change is a requirement for universities to test all new faculty and students for tuberculosis.
Concealed Carry permits
Starting Aug. 28, local sheriff’s departments took over the responsibility of printing concealed carry permits. Previously, the Missouri Department of Revenue handled the job. After the controversy over the department’s scanning of personal documents during the 2013 legislative session, lawmakers responded by removing the Revenue Department from the concealed weapons process.
EBT card usage
Also effective Aug. 28, a new law restricts welfare recipients from using their electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards at casinos, liquor stores or any other adult-oriented establishment. Recipients will not be able to use their cards to buy products aimed at an adult audience, such as cigarettes or alcohol.
Supporters of this law claimed it would make sure those who truly need it use their funds properly, but opponents argued it won’t stop card users from using ATMs to get cash and paying for the same things.