Reducing Violent Crime and Making Our State Safer for All Missourians
Members of the Missouri General Assembly wrapped up their work this week on an extra session called to combat violent crime in our state. During the session, called by the governor, lawmakers passed two measures designed to help law enforcement officers tackle the increasing violent crime rates in our largest cities and metropolitan areas.
House Bill 66 creates a statewide witness protection fund. Through this fund, law enforcement agencies can receive funding to provide security for witnesses, potential witnesses and their immediate families during criminal proceedings or investigations. This measure, which received bipartisan support, will ensure witnesses feel safe reporting crimes and providing vital information to help solve those crimes.
In addition, House Bill 46 temporarily relaxes the residency requirement for police officers in the City of St. Louis. This is an issue I was proud to have already been working on with our attorney general and St. Louis municipal and public safety officials. According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, the city police force is short more than 140 officers. I believe the shortage of officers in St. Louis has a direct effect on the violent crime experienced by the city. By eliminating this requirement, we are allowing the city to cast a wider net when it comes to recruiting qualified police officers. In my opinion, more boots on the ground means safer streets, and this is a simple solution to solving the city’s police shortage.
When it comes to violent crime in our state, the statistics paint a grim picture. According to the FBI, in 2018, Missouri ranked 9th in the country when it came to violent crime. In addition, both Kansas City and St. Louis have reported drastic increases in homicides this year compared to 2019. Unfortunately, these statistics represent families torn apart by senseless violence. These despicable acts also have far-reaching, long-lasting effects on our communities and our state’s economy, and I believe the measures passed during the extra session will provide commonsense tools to reduce violent crime and deliver justice.
In addition to the extra session, lawmakers also returned to the State Capitol this week for the annual veto session. Usually a one-day affair, this session gives the members of the Missouri General Assembly the opportunity to reconsider any legislation vetoed by the governor. Following the completion of the 2020 legislative session, the governor vetoed two bills and issued 17 line-item vetoes — totaling more than $11 million — to the state’s 2021 operating budget. While the House of Representatives successfully voted to overturn one of the governor’s line-item vetoes to House Bill 2004, the Senate did not take up the same motion. At the end of the day, lawmakers did not override any of the governor’s vetoes. While our state constitution grants the governor the authority to veto any legislation passed by the General Assembly, lawmakers have the ability to overturn a governor’s veto through a two-thirds vote in both chambers. In my opinion, the ability to override a governor’s veto plays an important role in our government’s system of checks and balances.
The conclusion of this year’s veto session marks the end of the 100th General Assembly. Despite the pandemic, I am proud of the work accomplished by my colleagues during the 2020 legislative session. I truly believe the legislation passed and signed into law this year will make Missouri a better place to live, work and raise a family.
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri Senate. If you have any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3678 or by email at email@example.com if you have any questions or concerns — we are honored to serve you.