JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri’s protection order regulations were altered under a bill allowing orders to be extended for life and adding protection for pets that was signed into law Tuesday.
SB 71 — championed by Sens. Elaine Gannon and Holly Rehder and Rep. Lane Roberts — grants judges the discretion to extend orders of protection for life, includes pets in protection orders, and expands the definition of stalking to include means through a third-party source such as social media.
“Victims of domestic violence should not have to live in constant fear of their abuser’s retaliation, their beloved pet being harmed, or having to re-appear in court multiple times to renew the same order of protection,” Gannon previously said. “I hope this new law will empower victims to seek protection and enable families to recover from the trauma of domestic abuse.”
Prior state statute allows protective orders for 180 days to one year. Full protection orders can be renewed for a maximum of just one year. A court can also include an automatic renewal for an order after one year; the respondent can, however, request a hearing at least 30 days before the expiration date.
Survivors Lisa Saylor and Janice Thompson traveled to Jefferson City to back the legislation, describing to lawmakers the dangers of returning to court again and again during a time when abusers know exactly where their victims are located and can intimidate, harass, or harm them. They said victims are also left vulnerable by rules restricting them from carrying mace or firearms with them in the parking lot or courthouse.
The change passed the legislature shortly before the end of session.
The bill also moved to shield pets from those threatening or committing abuse against them. Gannon previously said pets were like family for many owners, comparing them to children. Another provision would allow parents, juvenile officers, and guardian ad litems to appeal any court decision altering the placement of a child.
Gov. Mike Parson signed Gannon’s legislation among a myriad of bills Tuesday, enacting reforms to the state’s PACE program and arbitration agreements. Other bills enacted safety funds and new tax credits.
Cameron Gerber studied journalism at Lincoln University. Prior to Lincoln, he earned an associate’s degree from State Fair Community College. Cameron is a native of Eldon, Missouri.
Contact Cameron at firstname.lastname@example.org.