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Nixon signs doctor discipline, high school athlete concussion bills

With a day left to act, Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed three more bills into law. He still must decide on nearly 20 others.
(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)
With a day left to act, Gov. Jay Nixon on Wednesday signed three more bills into law. He still must decide on nearly 20 others.

With just a day left to take action, Gov. Jay Nixon has signed three more pieces of legislation.

They are:

  • House Bill 265, which, among other things, makes changes to the ways doctors are disciplined in the state of Missouri. It also changes regulations for funeral directors and embalmers.
  • House Bill 300, which requires the state Department of Health and Senior Services to develop guidelines for high schools on brain injuries and concussions. Among the requirements? Athletes would not be allowed to return to the practice or playing field without a doctor's clearance.
  • Senate Bill 55, which changes the way that sawmills and planing mills are taxed.

Some of the changes in House Bill 265 were prompted by aSt. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation that revealed the state had one of the most lax systems for disciplining doctors. The changes are supposed to make it easier for the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts to prove that a doctor is a threat, and would allow the board itself, rather than the state administrative hearing commission, to hold a disciplinary hearing for doctors with suspected mental health, substance abuse, or competency issues.

The measure also makes more information about doctors publicly available.

House Bill 300 requires student athletes be benched from competition and practice for at least 24 hours if they suffer a suspected concussion - and they cannot return to competition until they've been cleared by a health professional who specializes in concussions.  The sponsor, State Representative Chuck Gatschenberger(R, Lake St. Louis), has a daughter who plays high school basketball.

"If they're going for the championship and she's had a concussion, I want her out, period...that's from my point of view, and that should be from her point of view, also," Gatschenberger said.  "There's a reason why people play organized sports, it's not so they could have a lifetime injury."

The new law takes effect August 28th, just in time for football season.  It also requires high school athletic governing bodies to submit an annual report on brain injuries to state lawmakers.  Public schools are required to publish that report - those that don't will be kicked out of their respective athletic associations.

Nixon still has to act on more than a dozen pieces of legislation, including a measure that would set up the state's health insurance exchange as required by the federal health insurance overhaul, a ban on "fake pot," and further restrictions on abortions performed after 20 weeks.

Without his signature or veto, the measures become law at midnight Thursday.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.
Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.