Senator Mike Cunningham’s Legislative Column for Sept. 1, 2017

Cunningham Updated Banner March 2017

Many Missourians are eagerly anticipating a long holiday weekend as Labor Day quickly approaches.  It’s always a nice weekend to take some time off from our busy lives and spend it with family and friends. This Labor Day will be no different. While this weekend will be filled with opportunities to make countless memories of your own, we do not want to forget who we are celebrating.  We are recognizing the men and women who demonstrate the hard work ethic that built this great nation. Make sure you take time for yourself and your family this weekend to look around and see all that our nation’s hard work has brought us.

We have been celebrating Labor Day for nearly 124 years. The first Labor Day holiday was held on Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York.  Twelve years later, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday. Today, we celebrate with parades and festivals across the country recognizing the American worker.

While your family is taking some time to honor our hard working Americans, remember Labor Day weekend is also one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) reports last Labor Day weekend 15 people died and more than 105 were injured in traffic accidents. MoDOT estimates most of the crashes were caused by inattention, failure to yield, improper lane usage, following too close and speeding.

MoDOT officials say following the rules of the road and buckling up every time are ways to protect yourself if you are in an accident.  Always drive sober.  Designate a sober driver. Any kind of impairment on the road is dangerous not only to you and your passengers, but other riders on the road.

In just the last week several laws have gone into effect in Missouri. New laws include a variety of topics including REAL ID, establishing a Blue Alert and also creating the crime of illegal re-entry into our state.

During the last legislative session I sponsored Senate Bill 34, which created the crime of illegal re-entry in Missouri. The penalty would be a class C felony, with sentencing of three to seven years in the Missouri department of Corrections.  This new law is not targeting people that have overstayed their visa, or who are productive members of society. The intent of the law has always been to go after those who have committed assault or a violent felony.

The same piece of legislation, which became an omnibus crime bill, also contained language creating the Blue Alert. This new law makes Missouri the 29th state in the nation to enact a Blue Alert. The Blue Alert notifies the general public in instances where law enforcement officers are killed or injured.

Senate Bill 34 also modifies and also creates new provisions for certain criminal offenses. Some of the changes under Senate Bill 34, include:

  • Adding prior state or local convictions as penalty enhancements for subsequent state convictions for fourth degree domestic assault, and second degree harassment;
  • Making the crime of leaving the scene of an accident a Class D felony if someone dies as a result of the accident;
  • Requiring court orders, and allowing the Secretary of State to intervene, in cases seeking the street addresses of participants in the Safe at Home address confidentiality program;
  • Allowing for the expungement of prior criminal non-support felony offenses after the convicted person pays the back child support or after probation/parole is concluded; and
  • The creation of a new Class E felony offense convictions in requirements for payment of Crime Victims’ Compensation fines upon conviction.

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.