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Missouri House rules panel advances two veterans bills

by Samir Knox | February 8, 2023 at 4:02 a.m.
Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City, is seen in this Aug. 31, 2022, photo as he speaks during a Missouri House committee hearing. (Julie Smith/News Tribune photo)

The Missouri House of Representatives Veterans Committee unanimously approved two bills Tuesday morning sponsored by Rep. Dave Griffith, a Jefferson City Republican.

House Bill 129 would create child custody protections for deployed parents and would create rules dictating how they can enter temporary co-parenting agreements with the other parent. Under the bill, a deployed parent must notify the other parent of their deployment no later than seven days after receiving notice.

According to the bill summary, "after a deploying parent returns from deployment, until a temporary agreement or order for custodial responsibility is terminated, the court shall issue a temporary order granting the deploying parent reasonable contact with the child unless it is contrary to the best interest of the child."

"In one of the case scenarios I read about, a wife knew that her ex-husband was going to Afghanistan and, as soon as he boarded the plane to leave, she took the kids and moved out of state to hide where she was. When he came back, he did not have access to his kids," said Griffith, who is chairman of the committee.

He said the bill would protect people serving from having custody issues while they're deployed and when they return.

"When you're deployed, you've got a lot to think about, there's a lot on your mind. One of the last things you should have to worry about is the care of your children," Griffith said. "We want them to be focused on their mission and not have to worry about other ancillary issues."

The bill was filed by former committee members in previous years, but never made it to a hearing. Griffith re-filed the bill again this year and was more optimistic about its chances of getting a hearing in the Senate. Griffith was confident the bill would make it to the House floor for a hearing this year.

The bill was voted "do pass" with full consent and will now go to a House Rules Oversight Committee.

The other bill, House Bill 130, would create a Stars and Stripes historical region that would cover a large portion of southeast Missouri from St. Louis County through New Madrid County. This is the third year Griffith has proposed this bill. It was unanimously approved by the House but failed to get passed in the Senate in 2022.

"Last year, it was a part of an omnibus bill that was supposed to be taken up, it was on the calendar. Then, (the Senate) said, 'If you take up the district congressional maps, then we're done' and they lived up to their word," Griffith said. "Not a single veteran bill got passed last year."

Griffith said he spoke to the chair of the Veterans, Military Affairs and Pensions Committee in the Senate, Sen. Bill Eigel, R-St. Charles, about the bill. Griffith and Eigel are working together to ensure Griffith's bills, and other bills from the House Veterans Committee, get properly heard in the Senate.

Sen. Jason Bean, R-Butler, proposed a similar bill that will be heard this morning in the Senate Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee, Senate Bill 139.

The bill was voted "do pass" with full consent and will go to a House Rules Oversight Committee.

HB 129: Establishes the uniform deployed parents custody and visitation act

Sponsor: Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City

HB 130: Establishes the Stars and Stripes historic region

Sponsor: Rep. Dave Griffith, R-Jefferson City

SB 139: Establishes the Stars and Stripes historic region

Sponsor: Jason Bean, R-Butler


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