Jefferson City, MO. — Representatives are back in the Missouri State Capitol to start discussing their own version of the governor’s special session on violent crime.
The Senate passed a large anti-crime package, Senate Bill 1, nearly three weeks ago but that large bill doesn’t matter anymore and it’s back to square one. The House is looking at each of the governor’s six provisions in their own separate bills and the debate Monday went on for five hours.
Five of the six bills were perfected by House members Monday. The bill containing juvenile certification, HB 12, was not brought up for debate. During a committee hearing last week, the age to certify a minor as an adult for certain crimes was increased from 14 to 16 years old.
Bills containing unlawful transfer of a weapon to a minor, HB 16, reducing residency requirement for St. Louis City Police Officers, HB 46, creation of a witness protection fund, HB 66, endangering the welfare of a child, HB 11, and witness tampering and intimidation, HB 2, now await a final vote.
“From this fund, law enforcement officers from around the state could ask for and request monies that they could use to protect witnesses in violent crimes,” Rep. Jonathan Patterson, R-Lee Summit, said in response to his bill, HB 46.
“We should have take this (residency requirements) to the whole state of Missouri cause the reality is all across the state of Missouri, cops are leaving at an alarming rate,” Rep. Shane Roden, R-Cedar Hill, said.
Lawmakers spent extra time on HB 66, creation of a witness protection fund, due to the lack funding in the provision.
“You’re telling me that we have to come back either for another special session or we have to come back in actual session in January in order to actually to have this bill have any meaning?” Rep. Peter Meridith, D-St. Louis, asked budget chair Rep. Cody Smith, R-Carthage.
Smith told lawmakers if they approve the bill, Gov. Parson will call another special session to fund the program.
“In other words we are doing an emergency special session that I would argue the bill that has the most actual impact on any of the things we are talking about is this bill, this bill is the bill that has the best argument for actually helping with crime problems in our state,” Smith said. “With all the bills we are doing today and yet it’s the one bill that can’t actually can’t do anything until we come back for a later session.”
Besides the debate of the provisions, one Republican Representative could possibly face an ethics investigation. House Minority Leaders sent a letter to the House Speaker Monday morning asking for an investigation into Rep. Nick Schroer, R-St. Charles, after reports of him living outside of the district.
Meridith made a comment about legislatures and living in their districts during the discussion about the St. Louis City Police residency requirements.
“And our state constitution we even recognize this, requiring legislators to live in the districts we serve. But why do we do that?” Meridith said. “People expect their representatives to be a part of their community in order to represent their voices in the legislature.”
All five of the provisions were perfected Monday and will be voted on Tuesday.
There still is no word about a bill involving concurrent jurisdiction for St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner’s office.
The bills will then be sent to the Senate once passed by the House before headed to the governor’s desk.