Joe Ortwerth's
 Jeff City Update
Missouri Family E-News June 8, 2009
State Restricts Homeschool  Oversight 
The Missouri General Assembly has acted to restrict state oversight of home education records and activities.  Over the years, parents of homeschool students have been accused of "educational neglect" under state child abuse and neglect laws, or failing to comply with compulsory school attendance laws.  The result has been investigations by social service case workers or school truancy officers demanding to see documentation of homeschool records.  Under state law, home educators must keep plan books, portfolios, and other written records verifying the student's academic work and progress.  Currently, any complaints with regard to home education are to be referred to local prosecuting attorneys.  That has not kept some overzealous state employees or school district officials from conducting investigations of their own.  Under the new law passed by the Legislature this year, home school records are subject to review only by the prosecuting attorney.  Other entities will no longer be able to make any claim that they are entitled to examine such records.
Family Champion Event to be Held in Springfield
A program designed to strengthen the faith commitment of families is being held this weekend in Springfield.  Sponsored by Focus on the Family, the program is known as "Family Champion Training."  Cory Albracht, the Director of Church and Community Outreach for Focus, says the goal of the program is to build the home as "the center of faith formation." 
Albracht points to a number of disturbing statistics:  Three out of four Christian teens leave the faith shortly after graduating from high school.  Divorce figures are no different for couples who attend church.  Less than 4% of self-professed Christians have a Biblical worldview.  Less than 10% of Christian families pray together, worship together, or read the Bible together in the home.  
"Pastors are desperate to see the faith not only being taught in the church but practiced in the home," Albracht says.  "We want to serve pastors in efforts to see families not only become healthy, but thrive in their church and community."  The Family Champion training conference will be held on Saturday, June 13th at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Springfield.  The program runs from 9 AM to 3:30 PM.  For more information, visit this Focus on the Family link: www.church.family.org   
Fair Tax Rally This Weekend in Columbia 
Promoters of what is being called "The Fair Tax" are hosting a Midwest rally this Saturday at the Boone County Fairgrounds in Columbia.  "The Fair Tax, if enacted by the U.S. Congress, would repeal the federal personal and corporate income tax, as well as Social Security, Medicare, and self-employment taxes, and abolish the Internal Revenue Service.  The revenues lost would be replaced a national retail sales tax.  Speakers will include Congressman John Linder of Georgia and Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as "Joe the Plumber."  State Representative Ed Emery of Lamar will also be among the speakers.  Rep. Emery was the sponsor of a similar "Fair Tax" measure on the state level, which passed the Missouri House, but was not taken up by the Missouri Senate.  The rally runs from 8AM to 4PM.  For more information, visit this website: 
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Legislature Bans Online Sexual Solicitation
The Missouri General Assembly has adopted legislation banning online solicitation for sexual purposes.  The action was requested by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.  The drive to crack down on sexual solicitation over the Internet has been spurred by concern over the controversial "craigslist" website.
Koster and other state attorneys general claim that craigslist is being used as a conduit for prostitution activities.  Craigslist recently agreed to cease its "erotic services" ads following the murder of a masseuse who advertised on the site.  However, the company plans to replace the previous listings with a similarly sleazy "adult services" category.
"Our investigators found advertisements that clearly were offering sex-for-money or seeking a sex-for-money relationship on craigslist's Kansas City, St. Louis, Columbia/Jefferson City and Springfield sites." Koster said.  "These arrangements advertised are not only illegal but dangerous, and we aim to stop this type of advertising in Missouri."
The language adopted by the Missouri Legislature creates the crime of promoting online sexual solicitation.  The crime occurs if a person knowingly allows a web-based classified service to be used to post advertisements promoting prostitution, enticing a child to engage in sexual conduct, or promoting sexual trafficking of a child.  Those convicted of the crime would be guilty of a felony, and be subject to a fine of $5000 for each day of violation.
Senator Matt Bartle of Lee's Summit sponsored the language at the request of the Attorney General's office.  "It is important that we keep our laws up to date so that we can continue to effectively combat crime as criminals find new ways to use technology for their own ends," Bartle said.
The online sexual solicitation language was included in an omnibus anti-crime bill developed by Representative Scott Lipke of Jackson.  Another provision included in that bill by Senator Bartle will make it easier to prosecute individuals who distribute obscene materials or furnish pornography to minors. 
Under current law, convictions for promoting obscenity or distributing pornographic materials to minors can only occur if it can be proved that the offender knew "the content and character" of the materials.  That language has now been removed from the statutes.  If the person charged was aware that they were distributing sexually oriented materials, they could be now found guilty of the crime.
Senator Bartle adds, "This bill will free the hands of local prosecutors to aggressively pursue those who attempt to flood our communities with obscene materials."
We commend these legislators for their concern for the children of Missouri.  The continuing sexual exploitation of minors through online communication is one of the worst bad fruits of the Internet.  The pervasive use of the Internet for the arrangement of sexual encounters is epidemic.  We pray that the Attorney General will not limit his investigations to notorious websites like craigslist, but will pursue the many online and print marketplaces for sexual misconduct.
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