JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A series of bills approved in this year’s Missouri legislative session will officially take effect on Monday, Aug. 28.
Here’s a closer look at five new prominent state laws, addressing health, public safety and other topics.
SB 49: Bans gender-affirming care for minors
Missouri will ban transgender children and some adults from gender-affirming care.
For those under 18, this will block access to puberty blockers, hormones, and gender-affirming surgeries. Additionally, Medicaid will no longer cover gender-affirming treatments for adults, and the state will not provide gender-affirming surgeries to prisoners.
Physicians who violate the law face some big risks. Violations could lead to the state revoking licenses, and patients with an illegal procedure could file a lawsuit seeking up to $500,000 in damages.
According to the legislation, through Aug. 28, 2027, “no health care provider shall prescribe or administer cross-sex hormones or puberty-blocking drugs to a minor for a gender transition, unless such minor was receiving such treatment prior to August 28, 2023.”
SB 39: Transgender youth participation in sports
Transgender athletes in Missouri will be required to compete on sports teams that align with the sex assigned at birth.
Under the law, for instance, a transgender girl would be prohibited from competing on girls-only high school team.
This applies for private school, public school district, public charter school that offers athletics through MSHSAA, plus any public or private institution of postsecondary education in Missouri.
The legislation also states that parents and guardians of a student athlete or any student athlete over 18 years old “deprived of an athletic opportunity” due to a violation can seek injunctive relief.
SB 398: Texting and driving becomes illegal
Holding a phone to text, call or perform other tasks while driving in Missouri will be considered illegal. Before this, Missouri was one of the last states that didn’t ban most adults from texting while driving.
The legislation is described as a “hands-free” law, so it does allow people to use their phone through other options, like using headphones, bluetooth or voice-to-text services.
Activities such as reading text messages, recording a video and posting to social media, so long as they involve your hands on the device, will become illegal behind the wheel.
Violating the hands-free law would be deemed a secondary violation, so law enforcement can only write a citation for texting while driving if the driver was stopped for something else.
Another provision through this legislation also allows car buyers to pay their sales taxes at a dealership, which could help cut down on expired temp tags.
SB 45: Medicaid coverage expands for new mothers
New mothers will soon be eligible for a full year of Medicaid health-care coverage in Missouri, rather than the traditional 60 days offered in most US states.
Health officials say this change could help thousands of women that would otherwise go uninsured two months after giving birth.
The legislation mainly intends to help low-income pregnant and postpartum women receiving benefits through MO HealthNet for Pregnant Women or Show-Me Healthy Babies.
Missouri DHSS reports around 61 Missourians die each year while pregnant or within a year of giving birth, so the expanded coverage could help reduce that rate.
SB 24: Redefining a first responder
Anyone who works as a 911 dispatcher or telecommunications worker in Missouri will soon be considered a first responder.
Previously, dispatchers were classified as administrative or clerical workers. The new distinction opens up additional resources and mental health services that were only available to more traditional first responder roles like police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services.
Also part of this legislation, post-traumatic stress disorder is considered an occupational disease and can be covered under workers’ compensation when diagnosed in first responders.
Other notable laws taking effect Monday include:
- HB 115 – Health care coverage changes for therapists
- HB 417 – Incentives available to more workers
- SB 34 – Allows school electives on Hebrew scriptures and Bible studies
- SB 35 – Slight changes to child custody laws
- SB 138 – Log truck weight requirements increase
- SB 157 – Tackles healthcare workers shortage
- SB 186 – Increased penalties for stealing and property damage
- SB 190 – Tax breaks for seniors