House, Senate pass versions of day care law

Missouri lawmakers want to bar anyone accused in the death or abuse of a child from running a day care center while the criminal charges are pending.

The House and Senate both passed measures Thursday establishing “Sam Pratt’s Law.” The name comes from a 2009 case in which a young boy died at an illegal day care center in the town of Pilot Knob. The owner continued operating the business even after she was charged in the boy’s death.

The proposals would let a judge order a day care provider who’s charged in the abuse, neglect or death of a child to suspend operations as a condition of release. Each of the day care bills will now go to the opposite chamber.

The House approved its measure 135-0, as part of an exchange between Republicans and Democrats: The Democrats, who are in the minority, allowed majority Republicans to redo a vote on a measure that would make gold legal tender in the state. In return, the Republicans agreed to hold votes on two Democrat-sponsored bills.

The gold bill’s sponsor, Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific, said the aim of his bill is to give people a way to protect themselves against inflation of the U.S. dollar.

The measure had been bought up for a vote earlier in the day, but had received only 81 supporting votes— one short of what is needed to get a majority in the 163-person chamber.

Thirty-nine lawmakers were absent from that initial vote. That number included many Republicans, who broadly support Curtman’s bill.

House Majority Leader Tim Jones, R-Eureka, said many of the Republicans were at a news conference hosted by Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon during the vote.

Democrats later allowed the vote on the gold bill to be redone and the measure passed 95-37, mostly along party lines. One member also voted present.

After the votes, Majority Leader Tim Jones and Minority Leader Mike Talboy played down notions the two parties made a deal.

But Rep. Tim Meadows, who made the motion to reconsider the vote on Curtman’s measure, told the Associated Press that he had made the motion in exchange for Jones agreeing to bring up for passage two bills sponsored by Democrats.

One of the bills was the House version of the day care bill, sponsored by Rep. Linda Black, D-Bonne Terre.

The other measure, sponsored by Meadows, would allow honorably discharged veterans to apply to have a special symbol put on their driver’s licenses.

Proponents of the bill have said the symbol will help veterans to get special discounts at stores and restaurants.

After Curtman’s gold measure passed, the House took up Meadows’ veterans bill and passed it, 130-1. That measure now goes to the Senate.

Meadows, who will be termed out of the House after this year, said Jones had been blocking a vote on his bill. Meadows said he wanted his measure to get sent to the Senate in time to be debated and possibly become law this year.

“When you work on something for four years of your life and you’re committed to helping veterans, that’s a huge price to pay to allow a political volley to be shot and shut down the ways of government,” said Meadows, D-Imperial. “That’s not what my people sent me here for.”

The Senate approved its measure earlier in the day in a unanimous vote without much debate.

“It just seems like common sense,” said sponsoring Sen. Scott Rupp, R-Wentzville said after the Senate vote.

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