KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri state senator says her bill was hijacked by someone in her own political party.
The proposed legislation centered around helping sexual assault survivors, but an amendment added to the bill changed the focus to another issue.
“That’s what we’ve been experiencing in the Missouri Senate in recent weeks,” state Sen. Holly Thompson Rehder, a Republican from district 27, said.
The amendment would criminalize providing “obscene material” to children in schools.
“We can start off here with a very bipartisan needed bill like our bill for sexual assault survivors and then all of a sudden, some senators start getting very salacious and it goes way up here really fast,” Rehder said.
Rehder’s bill would bring clarity and strengthen current state laws for survivors. It’s a cause she knows about firsthand.
“I’m a survivor myself,” Rehder said.
The KSHB 41 I-Team spoke with the sponsor of the amendment about Rehder’s claim.
“Oh, it wasn’t hijacked. Anyone and every single senator on that floor has the capability to amend any bill at any time within the parameters of the bill and that’s exactly what this did,” state Sen. Rick Brattin, a Republican from district, 31 said.
Brattin believes both pieces of legislation are important.
“Protecting survivors of sexual assault, absolutely, is critical, but so is protecting the young minds of our children while they’re at school,” Brattin said.
University of Missouri - Kansas City political science professor Dr. Beth Vonnahme said amendments like this are fairly common and not unique to Missouri.
“We typically refer to them as riders because they ride along with a piece of legislation and they’re not connected to that legislation,” Vonnahme said.
Vonnahme also said this is a textbook example.
“They typically happen because legislation is controversial, and it won’t get passed on its own and so it gets attached to something that is very popular or has bipartisan support so that it can be passed,” Vonnahme said.
When the Missouri Senate is back in session next week, Rehder plans to bring up the bill again. Her hope is the amendment will be withdrawn.
“This is a very necessary bill and even though his is as well, his needs to work through the process and not become the issue when our bill is about the sexual assault survivors,” Rehder said.
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