By CARL H. HENDRICKSON
For the Call
Crestwood’s representative in the Mis-souri House of Representatives was the only member of the south county delegation to oppose legislation that would ban unsolicited e-mail from computers through-out Missouri.
Jim Avery, R-Crestwood, voted against the bill, calling it unenforceable.
“It is bad public policy for a state to attempt to regulate a business that encompasses the whole world,” Avery told the Call.
The Missouri House last week sent the Senate a bill to protect consumers from unsolicited commercial electronic mail.
This bill would require the state’s attorney general to develop and maintain a list of consumers who have registered their objection to receiving unsolicited commercial e-mail. Unsolicited e-mail could not be sent to registrants after Jan. 1, 2005.
In addition, the measure grants Attorney General Jay Nixon authority to seek a judicial order requiring the removal of child pornography from a web site. Failure to do so is punishable as contempt of court.
State representatives from south county who supported the measure were: Walt Bivins, R-Oakville; Jim Lembke, R-Lemay; Sue Schoemehl, D-Oakville; Michael Vogt, D-Affton; and Pat Yaeger, D-Lemay.
The Missouri Senate last week approved judicial reforms aimed at containing damages the courts award to plaintiffs in lawsuits against physicians, or “tort reform.”
Sen. Delbert Scott, R-Lowry City, said he created the bill in response to dramatic increases in medical malpractice insurance that drove up the cost of providing health care, forcing doctors to close their practices and threatened the access of citizens to health care across the state.
“This legislation brings common-sense reforms to our judiciary system and helps avert continuing increases in the cost of health care for providers and patients,” Scott said. “By stemming out-of-control lawsuits, we can ensure that our citizens can continue to receive care that’s essential to their basic health needs.”
Daniel Mehan, president and CEO of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, stated in a news release, “In the long equation of economic development, our tort environment is a major factor in job retention and expansion. The Senate has sent an important message to Missouri employers through passage of this legislation – that they are committed to addressing the issues at the core of Missouri’s recent job loss.”
Critics of SB 280 point out that the measure also closes some files in nursing homes that will immunize homes from law suits for negligent acts. Self-studies done by homes of neglect and abuse problems could be kept confidential.
The bill passed along party lines. Repub-licans favored reform, Democrats opposed it. Sen. Anita Yeckel, R-Sunset Hills, supported the bill. This bill now advances to the House where a similar measure has already passed. Gov. Bob Holden has indicated that he will veto the legislation.
Before adjourning for spring break, the House passed and sent to the Senate its budget proposal. The south county delegation split along party lines, with Republi-cans supporting the proposal to dole out lump-sum payments to departments and Democrats arguing for staying with the standard budget process of line-item ap-propriations.
Schoemehl, in a news release issued when the budget proposal first was proposed, pointed out that the lump-sum concept effectively skips the House as part of the budget process. “In the past, the budget process has been done in a systematic manner that helps the budget committees understand the reasons for the dollar figures on the line items. Now that entire process has been thrown out the window,” she said.
In a news release, Lembke stated that the House had to find a new, innovative and common-sense approach to balance the state budget this year.