For a little more than a month, the Missouri Legislature has been taking a careful look at ways to curb violent crime throughout our state. While the main focus has been on larger cities, such as St. Louis and Kansas City, the main consensus has been there is an increase in the worst crimes not only in the big cities, but rural Missouri as well.
On July 27, the Missouri General Assembly returned to Jefferson City at the behest of the governor. We started work on an extraordinary session with the goal of reducing violent crime. What was crafted in the Missouri Senate had to be set aside due to concerns about too many different individual points in a single bill. Instead, the Missouri House of Representatives drafted multiple measures, each with a single issue included. After the House discussed and passed these five proposals, they then came to the Missouri Senate.
House Bill 66 creates a statewide witness protection fund. House Bill 2 allows hearsay evidence when witnesses have given statements and were then killed or intimidated before they could appear in court. House Bill 11 considers it felony child endangerment to encourage, aid or cause a child under 17 to commit violent weapons or drug offenses, which I believe would also help combat the growing trend of gang violence in cities. House Bill 46 temporarily relaxes the residency requirement for police officers in the City of St. Louis.
Several of these measures where amended by the Missouri Senate during debate, which means they will need to receive another round of approval from the Missouri House before moving to the governor’s desk for his consideration. As I reflect on the legislation passed over the course of the past week, I realized these measures are not the final answer to our state’s violent crime problem. When it comes to violent crime, a singular solution does not exist; however, I do believe these measures give our law enforcement officers the additional tools they need to help clean up our streets and make our great state a safer place for everyone who calls Missouri home.
As always, please feel free to call, email or write with your ideas or concerns. My Capitol office number is (573) 751-1415, my email is firstname.lastname@example.org and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.