Senate committee chairwoman: Coroner training bill is "necessary"

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Senate Committee on Professional Registration held a public hearing for a bill designed to fund training for the county coroners in the state. The bill would add a one dollar fee to death certificates, putting the money toward training. It would also penalize coroners who do not attend training by stripping their ability to sign death certificates.

Jay Minor, joined by his girlfriend Debby Ferguson, was first to testify in favor of the bill. His son, Jayke Minor died in 2011. The Howard County coroner initially ruled his death an accidental drug overdose, but years later a toxicology report showed there was only marijuana in his system, a drug experts do not believe causes death. There were additional issues with the coroner's investigation, including inaccurate reports filed.

After years of not knowing what happened to his son, Jay Minor took his story to the Missouri Coroners' and Medical Examiners' Association. He and Ferguson have since talked to lawmakers, other coroners and a national coroners' association looking for changes to Missouri's laws - many of which have not been updated in decades.

During the committee meeting, Chairwoman Senator Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane) thanked Minor and Ferguson for testifying and called the proposed legislation a "necessary bill"

"It's very pleasing," Jay Minor said. "We made a vow when this started to make sure this happened to no other family in Missouri. And I feel like we're making a good accomplishment on that."
Two county coroners testified that they supported the bill and want to loop in other agencies, including law enforcement and prosecutors.
"After eight years and after three years of finally having someone listen to us, it's very refreshing to know that we have gotten to where we need to be to get changes," Ferguson said. 
The bill would cap the training fund at $500,000. Bill sponsor Representative Dan Houx (R-Warrensburg) said it would take about a year for the funding to build up and more work can be done to work on logistics of training and who will be involved as that money comes in.