COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Several new laws are going into effect in Missouri on Monday, including a hands-free law, restrictions for transgender people and an expansion of mental health care for first responders.
Missouri's new Hands-Free law goes into effect on Monday. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 28 states have hand-held cellphone use bans.
Once the law takes effect, drivers will no longer be able to "physically holding or supporting a cell phone with any part of their body; manually typing, writing, sending, or reading text-based messages; recording, posting, sending or broadcasting video, including video calls and social media posts; and watching a video or movie," according to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
University of Missouri student, Amber Schmidt says that she is supportive of the new law. "I think texting and driving is very selfish. When you are behind the wheel you should never have a phone in your hand, even at a red light. It just puts yourself and others in danger," said Schmidt.
This new law is a result of the nearly 801 fatalities related to distracted driving. MoDOT states that there were nearly 200,000 crashes in Missouri between 2021 and 2022 caused by distracted driving. The Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety claims that more than half of Missouri's distracted driving fatalities claimed the life of another person.
Senate Bill 843 will into effect on Monday as well. This act will affect a transgender minor's access to specific gender-affirming health care.
According to the Missouri Senate, under this new act, it will be illegal for any physician or healthcare provider to provide any gender transition procedures to a minor. Not only will it be illegal for doctors to provide such procedures, but it will also become illegal for them to refer patients to another healthcare provider for those procedures.
The law does not apply to minors with "medically verifiable disorders of sex development; treatment of any infection, injury, disease, or disorder caused or exacerbated by gender transition procedures; or procedures undertaken because the minor suffers from a condition that would place him or her in imminent danger or death or impairment of a major bodily function unless surgery is performed," according to the Senate.
Mental health care for first responders
Senate Bill 24 is also among the bills taking effect Monday. Gov. Mike Parson ceremoniously signed this bill in Springfield on Saturday.
The bill will help first responders receive mental health care. Under Senate Bill 24, PTSD as Occupational Disease in First Responders (Section 287.067), requires that PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder, be considered a compensable occupational disease under worker's compensation.
"A first responder shall not require a physical injury in order to be eligible for benefits, but preexisting PTSD is not compensable," as stated by the Missouri Senate. "The time for notice of injury or death in cases of compensable PTSD is measured from exposure to one of the qualifying stressors listed in the DSM-5 criteria, or the diagnosis of the disorder, whichever is later. Any claim for compensation for an injury shall be properly noticed to the Division of Workers' Compensation within 52 weeks after the qualifying exposure."
This means that first responders suffering from PTSD will now have the opportunity to be compensated by the Division of Worker's Compensation.
According to the Institutes of Health, more than 80% of first responders experience PTSD. First responders are the first to arrive on scene and that can be a heavy load to carry. Symptoms of PTSD include intrusive memories, avoidance, negative changes in thinking and mood and changes in physical and emotional reactions.