Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News May 25, 2009
Claims Religious Discrimination
A St. Charles-area pharmacist has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against The Target Corporation.  Heather Williams filed the suit in U. S. District Court alleging that she was fired for her religious beliefs.  Williams worked in the pharmacy at the Target store in St. Charles for five years.  She says she was dismissed from her job in December 2005 because she declined to fill prescriptions for Plan B, the so-called morning-after pill, which has abortifacient qualities.    Williams' attorney says that she also did not want to participate in referrals for Plan B to other pharmacies, because it was "too much for her conscience." Target says it tries to accommodate customers wanting what they call emergency contraception, and accommodate the religious beliefs of its pharmacists at the same time.  The company would not comment directly on the litigation.  Williams is being represented in her lawsuit by the American Center for Law and Justice.
Legislature Bans Hiring Discrimination
Students who are home educated may find it easier to obtain employment under legislation adopted by the General Assembly this year.  The Legislature approved a bill that prohibits government agencies from discriminating against job applicants because they lack a public high school diploma.   The  legislation states that no public employer can discriminate in evaluating job abilities and skills based on the educational program a student completed, provided such program is permitted under Missouri Law.  In recent months, some public employers in other states have rejected diplomas issued to home school students in instances where a high school diploma was a job requirement.  If signed by the Governor, the new law would also forbid discrimination in the placement or treatment of employees on the job based on the source of their education.   Senator Jane Cunningham of Chesterfield was the sponsor of the legislation which was promoted by Kerry Messer of the Missouri Family Network.
CWA Director To Speak in St. Louis
The President of Concerned Women for America will be making an appearance in Missouri in early June.  Wendy Wright will be speaking at a dessert and coffee reception to be held on Thursday, June 4th at 7 PM at Pillar in the Valley in Chesterfield. A CWA spokesman say Wright will speak on "the good, the bad, and the ugly in Washington, D.C."  She is expected to address the battle over "hate crimes" legislation currently before the U.S. Senate.  You can register for the event by calling the CWA offices at 636-536-6506, or by e-mailing State Director Bev Ehlen at cwaofmo@hotmail.com Wright will also be speaking earlier in the day at the Conservative Heartland Leadership Conference at the Millennium Hotel in St. Louis.
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New State Law Takes Aim at Sex Offenders
The Missouri General Assembly has adopted legislation to protect children from individuals guilty of sex crimes.  Under the provisions of the bill sent on to the Governor, new restrictions would be placed on the presence of sex offenders in local communities.
The newly enacted law, Senate Substitute for House Bill 62,  prohibits those convicted of sex crimes from loitering or being physically present within 500 feet of any public park with playground equipment or a swimming pool, or any child care facility.  Sex offenders may not approach, contact, or communicate with anyone younger than 18 years of age on such property.
The bill also provides that those convicted of sex offenses may not serve as an athletic coach, manager, or trainer for any sports team in which a child younger than 17 years of age is a member.  Violations of the public park and sports team restrictions would be a felony.  Violation of the child care facility provision would be a misdemeanor.
Missouri law currently provides that sex offenders may not be physically present within 500 feet of a school building or real property comprising any school. 
The provisions of the law apply to any person who has plead guilty or been convicted of sexual exploitation of a minor, endangering the welfare of a child, possession or promotion of child pornography, or the furnishing of pornographic materials to minors. 
The new restrictions dealing with public parks and athletic coaches were sponsored by Representative Will Kraus of Raytown.  The section dealing with child care facilities was offered by Representative Gary Dusenberg of Blue Springs.
"Sex offenders and pedophiles are looking for places where children congregate," says Kraus.  "It is great that we have laws keeping these people away from our schools.  But we also need to keep them away from where kids gather before and after school, and during the summertime.  This provides another tool for local police to use to keep our kids protected from those who would do them harm."
In related action, the Legislature also gave final approval to a bill toughening the penalties for sex offenses against children.  Should the bill be signed by Governor Jay Nixon, those convicted of forcible rape or sodomy of a child less than twelve years of age would be sentenced to life in prison.  Such offenders would not be eligible for probation, parole, or conditional release. 
In order for the penalty to apply, a jury would have to determine that the actions of the perpetrator were "outrageously or wantonly vile, horrible or inhumane, in that it involved torture or depravity of mind."  The current penalty in the law is a minimum of thirty years in prison, at which time the person who raped or sodomized a child can be released back into the community.
The enhanced penalty for sexual abuse of a child was sponsored by Senator Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon.
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