Senator Cunningham’s Legislative Column for May 12, 2017

Cunningham Updated Banner March 2017

The First Regular Session of the 99th General Assembly has come to an end. In line with the Missouri Constitution lawmakers must end debate by 6 p.m., on the second Friday in May.

This year there was passionate debate on a variety of topics. Even with debate that stretched late into the night and sometimes heated discussions on the Senate floor lawmakers were still able to pass a balanced budget and many other meaningful pieces of legislation this session.

In 2015, I first introduced legislation similar to Senate Bill 34, which creates the crime of Illegal re-entry, making it a crime in the state of Missouri for an illegal immigrant, who has previously been deported, to enter Missouri and commit assault or a dangerous felony. This proposal was motivated by the all too common occurrence of illegal immigrants coming to the United States, committing a crime, being deported, and quickly returning to the United States to begin the process again. With this bill Missouri is not usurping federal authority, we are simply creating a new state crime, punishable within the state of Missouri, that allows Missouri courts to sentence and imprison illegal immigrants who have been deported and return to Missouri and commit a violent crime. If the federal government begins to aggressively enforce our current immigration laws, the crime of illegal reentry will likely be rarely prosecuted in the future.

Several amendments were added to Senate Bill 34, including those regarding sentencing of certain crimes. One amendment included the creation and implementation of the Blue Alert System. The system is similar to an Amber Alert, and would send out emergency notices to help capture those who are responsible for causing serious injury or death to law enforcement officers. This legislation now heads to the governor for his signature.

On the final day of session, the House also passed Senate Bill 35. Under this legislation when the Department of Natural Resources or the Commissioner of Administration on behalf of a state department, contracts to purchase land of 60 acres or more or with a cost of more than $250,000 is required to take certain actions, including providing public notice on its website, to elected officials, and in a newspaper, holding a public hearing in affected counties, and providing public notice of the hearing.

House Bill 292, which I carried in the Senate was also truly agreed to and finally passed and now awaits the governor’s signature. This bill modifies provisions relating to the powers of certain financial institutions.

Once signed, House Bill 292 will allow a bank or trust company to acquire property for the purpose of leasing the property to a public organization or group, including government buildings, municipal buildings, schools and public hospitals. The bank or trust company must lease the property to a public organization or group that has sufficient resources to satisfy all rental payments. The lease agreement must allow the lessee to become the owner of the property and any building or facility once the lease expires.

I will have more information on how session went in next week’s column.

As always, I appreciate it when groups from around Missouri and from our community back home come to visit me at the Capitol. If you would like to arrange a time to come and visit me in Jefferson City, or if you ever have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact my Capitol office at (573) 751-1882.