While the budget has been the primary focus of the 2010 legislative session so far, your Legislature is still working to address other important issues for Missouri families. Last week, the Senate General Laws Committee, which I chair, advanced two bills that I strongly support.
The first is House Bill 2081, a measure I will be handling in the Senate. This legislation would allow any pregnant woman to use deadly force to protect her unborn child. In instances where a woman and her unborn baby are seriously threatened, fear of criminal prosecution should not prevent the woman from defending herself and her child.
The bill stems from the case of a pregnant woman in Michigan who was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison time after using deadly force to defend her unborn baby against her boyfriend who was repeatedly punching her in the stomach. Though the case was eventually overturned, we should take proactive steps to guarantee that mothers in Missouri may defend their babies from attack. This important legislation would make that right crystal clear in state law.
I am determined to make swift progress on this bill to ensure it has time to be discussed on the Senate floor and given an opportunity to receive a vote. The General Laws Committee received the bill on April 20, and I scheduled a public hearing for the next day, April 21. Shortly after the hearing, the committee voted to pass the bill, sending it to the Senate floor the same day. With only three weeks left in the legislative session, there is no time to lose.
Last week, I also amended a bill to include a provision that would help limit the expansion of gambling in Missouri. Essentially, my amendment to HB 1893 would make it more difficult for the Missouri Gaming Commission to quickly issue a license for a new gambling boat in our state. Prior to any new gaming license being considered, the commission would be required to conduct a comprehensive study to determine the economic and financial impact of issuing an additional gaming license. The commission should consider these findings before determining whether an additional license should be issued.
Missouri must strongly regulate and restrict the growth of the gambling industry, particularly in these uncertain economic times. Gambling can have potentially destabilizing effects on local economies, as well as disastrous consequences for individuals and families, so I hope that my colleagues in the Legislature will seriously consider this bill when it comes to the Senate floor.