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Missouri Family E-NewsMay 2, 2011

 

Pro-Family Bills Await Action as Legislature Winds Down

 

With two weeks left in this year's session of the Missouri Legislature, two major priorities of the pro-life and pro-family movement are awaiting final approval by the General Assembly.

 

Legislation protecting viable preborn children from the brutality of late-term abortion has yet to win final passage.  The House has approved a bill (House Bill 213) establishing restrictions on late-term abortions sponsored by Representative Tim Jones.  It has been approved by the Senate General Laws Committee, and is awaiting action by the full Senate.

 

The Senate has approved an identical bill (Senate Bill 65)sponsored by Senator Rob Mayer.  That proposal has been advanced by the House Health Care Policy Committee, and is awaiting action by the full House.  Both bills reflect language agreed to by legislative leaders and pro-life activists.  One of these bills needs to be approved by the other chamber in these final days of the session, which ends at 6 PM on Friday, May 15th.

 

The other pro-family priority is a proposed constitutional amendment protecting the religious liberties of Missouri citizens and schoolchildren.  The proposal, if approved by Missouri voters, would ensure the right of schoolchildren to pray on a voluntary basis in the public schools.  It would also safeguard the right of Missouri citizens to pray in public settings and to acknowledge God in public proceedings.

 

The religious liberty amendment, sponsored each year by Representative Mike McGhee, has been approved by the Missouri House four years in a row.  Once again, McGhee's bill (House Joint Resolution 2) faces a promised filibuster in the Senate by allies of the ACLU.  McGhee's proposal is awaiting debate on the Senate calendar, where it will be handled by Senator Jack Goodman, who sponsored an identical version in that chamber.

 

We strongly encourage you to contact your state senator to urge them to act on House Joint Resolution 2 before the clock runs out on this session.  There is no excuse for the Missouri Senate, in the decisive control of conservative Republicans, to fail once again to pass the religious liberty amendment, which has strong bipartisan support.

 

You can contact your state senator by using this link:

Missouri Senate

 

We also encourage you to contact your state senator and state representative to urge their support for the passage of the late-term abortion bill.  Ask your state representative to support Senate Bill 65.  Ask your state senator to support House Bill 213.  You can contact your state representative by using this link:

Missouri House

 

Please dedicate some time to prayer for the members of the Legislature as the book closes on this first regular session of the 96th General Assembly.  The waning hours of the session always invite a clash between the House and the Senate over competing priorities and personalities.  This year those tensions have been particularly high.  Pray that there will be harmony in the State Capitol, and that God will be honored in the final deliberations and decisions made by legislators and their leaders. 

 

 

National Day of Prayer this Thursday 

 

The 60th annual observance of the National Day of Prayer will be held this Thursday, May 5th, at courthouses, in churches, and in communities across the nation.  The theme of this year's observance is  "A Mighty Fortress is Our God," drawing on the Scripture contained in Psalm 91:2.

 

The Honorary Chairwoman of this year's event is Joni Eareckson Tada.  Joni is nationally known as an inspiring author, speaker, and vocalist.   She has been an example of heroic Christian witness, living a very challenging and painful life as a quadriplegic following a diving accident 44 years ago.

 

In a written message to Americans, Tada bemoans the fact that while America may be a "superpower on the global stage, its citizens are, for the most part, faltering in spirit and feeble in faith."

 

"The moral seams of our Republic are ripping and unraveling," Tada continues. "Just a few decades ago, the American public shared a moral consensus, but today, everyone 'does what is right in his own eyes' (Proverbs 21:2)"

 

"Our schools, courts, and communities grope blindly for lack of a moral compass, while ignoring the Source of all wisdom and righteousness.  Although the United States was founded on solid biblical moorings and shaped by great Christian leaders, our nation bears little resemblance to the America of our Founding Fathers."

 

Tada commented in her message about a recent visit to the U.S. Capitol where she admired the paintings hanging in the Rotunda.  She saw paintings of the baptism of Pocahontas; the signers of the Declaration of Independence gathered around an open Bible; the Pilgrims praying before sailing the Atlantic; and other paintings showing explorers planting Christian flags and crosses on American soil.  Tada  was struck by the strong historic connection between the Christian faith and the founding of our country.

 

"Prayer not only changes things, it changes people,"  Tada says in issuing a national appeal for united prayer this Thursday.  "Let us pray for a return of the time when every American will respect our historic Christian traditions; when we will gladly acknowledge that God is our refuge and fortress; when every U.S. citizen will place their trust in God."

 

We thank God for men and women of Christian conviction in our land like Joni Eareckson Tada, who is neither faltering nor feeble in her faith despite her debilitating condition.

 

You can read more about this year's observance of the National Day of Prayer by clicking this link:

National Day of Prayer

 

You can learn about local and regional prayer events around Missouri by following this link:

Find an Event  

Proposal to Battle Human Trafficking Nears Final Passage

 

 

Legislation to toughen Missouri's laws against human trafficking is on the doorstep of final passsage by the Missouri General Assembly.  The Missouri Senate has unanimously approved a House bill sponsored by Representative Anne Zerr of St. Charles which strengthens state statutes dealing with forced labor and sexual bondage.  

 

Zerr's legislation, House Bill 214, must now return to the House for one more procedural vote before being sent on to Governor Jay Nixon for his anticipated signature.  The House had previously adopted the human trafficking measure by a vote of 155-0.

 

The human trafficking bill was steered to passage in the Senate by Senator Jack Goodman of Mt. Vernon, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  Goodman had sponsored an identical bill in the Senate, as did Senator John Lamping of Clayton.  All three bills were developed by the Missouri Family Policy Council working in tandem with the Missouri Catholic Conference and the Missouri Attorney General's office.

 

The proposal now endorsed by both chambers would provide stronger tools to prosecute the sexual trafficking of women and children.  The definition of human trafficking is broadened to include forced sexual exploitation in the production of pornography and through the sexual performances occurring at sexually oriented businesses.  The scope of Missouri's current human trafficking law is primarily confined to instances of prostitution.

 

Missouri's present law prohibits involuntary servitude and sexual bondage through physical force or threats to cause physical harm.  The proposed new law would expand the definition of human trafficking offenses to include acts of psychological coercion such as fraud, deception, blackmail, or threats to cause financial harm. 

 

Penalties for the crimes of forced labor, sexual exploitation, sexual trafficking of a child, and sexual trafficking of a child under the age of twelve, are all enhanced to match those contained in federal law.  Legal observers have commented that federal charges are pursued in most sexual trafficking cases in Missouri because the potential penalties are often greater than those contained in Missouri law.

 

The legislation endorsed by the General Assembly includes important new victim assistance and victim protection provisions.  Those convicted of the crime of sexual trafficking would be required to pay restitution to the victim to compensate for their forced labor and for any mental and physical rehabilitation costs.  Victims of trafficking would be able to pursue civil action against their perpetrators, seeking both actual and punitive damages.  The Attorney General would be empowered to seek civil penalties against human trafficking enterprises, with the proceeds dedicated to victim restitution.

 

The proposal is designed to assist prosecution of complex human trafficking networks involving numerous parties engaged in both intrastate and interstate commerce.  The crime of human trafficking is widened to include not only those who enslave or secure human trafficking victims, but also those who benefit financially in any way from participation in such activities.

 

Numerous human trafficking rings concentrate on luring women from other countries with false promises of opportunity and employment in the United States.  However,  domestic trafficking of American girls is increasingly described as a problem of epidemic proportions.  Many of the victims are teens who are runaways or prior victims of abuse or neglect.  Others are young girls who have been lured by sexual predators who falsify their identities and entrap the girls through bogus modeling proposals or contrived romantic relationships.

 

Missouri's central geographic location has made it a convenient exchange point for human trafficking operations moving women and children across the nation.   The U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas City has prosecuted more human trafficking cases in Missouri and Kansas than any other Justice Department office in the country.

 

We are most grateful to Representative Zerr and Senators Goodman and Lamping for their conscientious leadership in tackling this abominable problem which reflects the increasingly depraved culture in which we live.  Please be in prayer and consider how you can support the many ministries and organizations around our state working to rescue trafficking victims, help them reclaim their lives, and introduce them to their ultimate Protector, our Lord Jesus Christ. 

 

Joe's Signature