With less than eight weeks remaining in the 2021 legislative session, every lawmaker is scrambling to get their proposals moving toward the finish line. This week, I was pleased to see the Education Committee vote “do pass” on my Senate Bill 136. This legislation would require a background check on any non-traditional student over age 18 who attends classes alongside regular students.
The inspiration for this bill came from a teacher at one of the schools in my district. They were leading a technical school class, with adults taking the same class as traditional high school students. It came to the teacher’s attention that one of his non-traditional students had a prior drug conviction. He then reached out to me with the suggestion that we needed to check the backgrounds of anyone attending school with our children.
I support workforce development programs. I believe these classes are incredibly necessary, and I want there to be more of them. I also don’t want to prevent anyone from having these opportunities. I’m all for second chances, and I don’t think something in your past should preclude you from an education.
With all that said, it absolutely makes sense to conduct background checks on adults in blended classrooms. We already check the backgrounds of school volunteers and substitute teachers. The janitors and the lunch room staff all must pass background checks. I believe we should hold adult students to the same standard. We can still offer the classes, but let’s not put felons in the same classroom as regular high school students.
Another bill I’m excited about is Senate Bill 571. We took testimony on this legislation this week in the Governmental Accountability and Fiscal Oversight Committee. The measure authorizes the General Assembly to review federal rules, congressional actions and executive orders issued by the president of the United States to determine if they are constitutional. When in doubt, the Legislature could ask Missouri’s attorney general to seek an exemption, or attempt to have the action declared unconstitutional.
I am incredibly concerned about overreach by the federal government. We all should be in light of statements made by the new administration in Washington. They’ve been far too vocal about wanting to take away our Second Amendment rights. I also fear they will attempt to impose new environmental regulations that will harm our Missouri economy. I wish we didn’t need this legislation, but we absolutely do. Just like we must pass the Second Amendment Preservation Act this year. It is my priority to help the bill’s sponsors to make certain we have this policy in effect as soon as possible. We need to be prepared to push back against the heavy hand of the federal government. It’s our right, as a state, to do that.
Finally, I’d like to mention my appointment to the Missouri Rights of Victims of Sexual Assault Task Force. I will be one of two members of the Senate serving on the task force, along with two member of the House of Representatives. The rest of the task force is made up of medical professionals, representatives of law enforcement agencies, people who work with rape and abuse crisis centers and organizations that assist sexual assault survivors, as well as everyday citizens.
Our mission is to work with stakeholders across Missouri to combat domestic violence and sexual assault. The task force exists so that victims and their families have the advocates they need, and that they get the services and support they deserve. I’m honored to have been selected to participate in this important work and look forward to contributing to the best of my ability.
Sen. Holly Rehder (R- Scott City) represents the state of Missouris 148th Senate District. She can be reached in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. Readers may write to her at Holly Rehder, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Rm 433, Jefferson City, MO 65101. Send an email to Holly.Rehder@senate.mo.gov or visit www.senate.mo.gov/Rehder.