Bill to target copper theft passses house

Friday, April 9, 2021

Recently my HB 69 passed the House by the amazing vote of 150-0. Very seldom does legislation pass unanimously. The key to success for the bill is the same for success in life: teamwork. One thing I have emphasized during my tenure is establishing good working relationships with all my colleagues and others involved in the legislative process.

This bill aims to tackle the particularly costly crime of copper theft. The damage caused by copper thieves can be horrendous. In Poplar Bluff, people cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to buildings in order to steal a few hundred dollars-worth of copper-containing materials. We have a system to track sales of potentially stolen copper, but under current law if it is a cash transaction of less than $50 we have no way to trace them.

Under my legislation anyone who sells any amount of copper will either have to provide a copy of their driver’s license or pay with a check or electronic funds transfer. By helping to deter and identify more thieves, it is my belief the measure will save millions of dollars in our state.

Though it has cleared the House, the bill still must pass the Senate, which is a slower, more deliberative chamber. However, will the help of Senator Jason Bean, who is handling the bill, I will work hard to get HB 69 across the finish line.

The members of the Missouri House gave strong bipartisan support to legislation that would allow victims of abuse to obtain lifetime orders of protection against extreme, obsessive abusers. The bill’s sponsor said the legislation “would end the necessity for victims to have to return to court every year to get a new protection order, and incurring the associated costs, as well as having to face their abuser again in court.”

Missouri law currently allows for orders of protection that last for one year. The legislation approved by the House would give a judge the option to grant a lifetime protection order against those who are obsessive and will not stop threatening their victims. The length of time the order of protection is issued or renewed would depend on whether the court makes specific findings during an evidentiary hearing that the respondent poses a serious danger to the physical or mental health of the petitioner or of a minor household member of the petitioner.

The House has given initial support to legislation that would exempt the federal stimulus payments received by Missourians from state income tax. The bill is similar to one approved by the legislature last year that exempted the first round of stimulus payments from state income tax.

The House also sent a bill to the senate that allows any religious denomination that discourages its members from purchasing insurance as being contrary to its religious tenets, but has more than 25 members with motor vehicles, to qualify as a self-insurer by obtaining a self-insurance certificate issued by the director of the Department of Revenue. Currently, a religious denomination can only qualify if it prohibits its members from purchasing insurance of any form. Supporters say the bill, HB 604, will allow religious organizations that discourage members from getting vehicle insurance to be allowed to qualify as self-insurer and be able to get a self-insurance certificate.

May God bless and keep you and our great nation.

Hardy Billington represents District 152, which includes parts of Butler and Dunklin counties.

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