JEFFERSON CITY — The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony Monday on one bill that would change regulations governing crime evidence kits and another that would create a Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

SB 569, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, would modify a mandatory evidence tracking system following the guidelines proposed by the Attorney General’s Office. The guidelines were created after a Missourian investigation into untested rape kits prompted an audit by former Attorney General Josh Hawley.

The bill would modify existing procedures for tracking evidence kits, adding language that would require the Department of Public Safety to collect and store all unreported evidence kits for up to 30 years, with the intention of giving crime victims the time to decide whether or not to come forward and report to law enforcement.

A representative from Primary Marking Solutions, a data-collection and labelling system company based in Saint Peters, raised concerns that the bill’s shift from tracking each aspect of an evidence kit to just tracking the kit as a whole could lead to issues with chain of custody. The boxes used to contain evidence are small — about the size of shoe box — so sometimes evidence doesn’t fit inside, and tracking that material could become an issue.

The committee also heard SB 677, sponsored by committee chair Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, which would establish a prescription drug monitoring program. Missouri is currently the only state without one.

The system would track a patient’s history of opioid prescriptions accessible by health care workers. This would help professionals identify issues like addiction and doctor-shopping.

Multiple health care professionals and organizations spoke in support of the bill, including Howard Jarvis, an emergency room doctor in Springfield.

“It’s not just about not prescribing things,” Jarvis said during the hearing. “It’s about getting people help.”

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services, 1 in 56 deaths in the state was the result of opioid overdoses in 2018, totalling 1,132 overdose deaths over the course of the year.

Luetkemeyer proposed a similar bill last session, but it failed to pass in the Senate. This year, he thinks it has a good chance because it got an early hearing, and he’s willing to make some compromises to get it over the finish line.

“I’ve talked to a lot of the members who’ve been opposed to the bill in the past,” he said. “I know some of the things they want. Some of those things I’m willing to negotiate on, and some of those things are non-starters.” He declined to discuss specifics.

Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, a committee member, is a part of the conservative caucus which filibustered the bill last session. He raised concerns that the PDMP could infringe on personal freedoms and lead doctors to potentially undertreat patients for pain, recounting the story of his wife’s hip replacement and the lack of pain care she initially received.

Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, horvitm@missouri.edu.

  • State Government reporter, Spring 2019 Studying investigative journalism Contact me at aesb8p@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom 882-5700

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