(August 7, 2020) — After nearly 12 hours of debate, the Senate has approved a package of legislation intended to address the alarming rise of violent crime in Missouri’s largest cities. The General Assembly returned to Jefferson City on July 27 for an extra legislative session called by the governor. Late Thursday night, the Senate reached consensus on Senate Bill 1, which includes provisions relating to witness intimidation, juvenile crime, and a long-standing shortage of police officers in the city of St. Louis.
The bill approved by the Senate now heads to the House of Representatives for its consideration. Senate Bill 1 contains six specific reforms the governor outlined in his call for an additional legislative session. One measure would eliminate a requirement that St. Louis City police officers live within the city limits. This is important as St. Louis City has a shortage of nearly 150 law enforcement officers. Another eases “hearsay” rules, and allows certain testimony to be admissible in court when witnesses have been intimidated from appearing in person. The bill also creates a special fund to pay for relocation and other security measures for witnesses in criminal cases. Three other provisions relate to juveniles. The bill expands the definition of “endangering the welfare of a child” to include encouraging a child to commit a weapons offense. It also raises the penalty for supplying a firearm to a minor without the consent of the child’s guardian. The bill also requires courts to determine whether juveniles charged with armed criminal action and other violent offences should be tried in adult court.
On an unrelated note, I would like to voice my appreciation to everyone who voted in the recent primary election. Voting is not just a right, but a civic duty. I know that some people had reservations about going to the polls during a pandemic, but I’m confident our local election officials took every conceivable precaution to keep us all safe. Remember, the deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 3 general election is Oct. 7. If you are not already registered, you can sign-up online at your county clerk’s office or online at www.sos.mo.gov/elections/goVoteMissouri/register.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at 573-751-4302. You may also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.