Legislative Column for the Week of Feb. 23, 2015
Regulating Municipalities And Fine Collection in Missouri

Legislation receiving a generous amount of attention recently is Senate Bill 5, also known as the “Macks Creek Law,” which would modify the distribution of funds dispersed to municipal courts that are collected through traffic fines and court costs. There has been much discussion over reforming Missouri’s municipal courts after numerous allegations of using speed traps and excessive ticketing as a means of additional funding and income for municipalities.

Before the “Macks Creek Law” was initially passed in 1995, there was no cap set for the percent that could be generated by traffic ticket and fines. When passed a cap of 45 percent was set. In 2009, the cap was lowered to 35 percent, and in 2013 it was lowered again to 30 percent.

Although some municipal court systems are over-reliant on income from these funds and have used their municipal courts as a revenue center, many also have not. Missouri would benefit more by passing a law that would strictly regulate practices within municipalities, and avoid using our law enforcement officers as revenue generators, rather than lowering the amount of funding a municipality could generate

Senate Bill 5 addresses numerous issues that can benefit constituents of certain municipalities, but on the other hand, could cause potential issues for small villages. I fully support decreasing the cap to 10 percent for larger cities such as the St. Louis and Kansas City area, Springfield and Jefferson City as of Jan. 1, 2017. These cities are able to generate a large budget, and do not require income from fines and tickets.

For many small villages in Missouri, this measure could potentially bankrupt their town’s budget for law enforcement. Many police departments in rural villages, which consist of 500 to 1,000 people, already depend on the current allotted percentage allowed to be collected to fund their small police department. And, the sheriff’s department, responsible for the entire county, do not have enough deputies to cover villages who lost their police department due to the lowered cap. Senate Bill 5 passed the Senate exempting 4th class towns and villages from the 10 percent cap.

Ensuring the future of the citizens in my district is a top priority. Whereas, I do not believe towns should be allowed the opportunity to fund their police department through abusing a system that should promote safety, rather than revenue, I think there are more efficient ways to regulate such situations rather than decreasing funding for rural areas.

Senate Bill 5 received final approval from the Senate and has been sent to the House for consideration.

I urge you to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about state government so that I can better represent you during the 2015 Legislative Session.

Contact Me

I always appreciate hearing your comments, opinions, and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-2459. You may write me at Wayne Wallingford, Missouri Senate, State Capitol, Jefferson City, MO 65101, or email at wayne.wallingford@senate.mo.gov or www.senate.mo.gov/wallingford.

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