Lawmakers will make their way back to the Capitol this week to work on specific issues that relate to violent crime. It is not uncommon for an extra session to be called to hammer out details on pressing issues. In fact, this marks the fourth consecutive year we have come back to Jefferson City for an extraordinary session.
The executive branch, under Article IV, Section 9, of the Missouri Constitution, has authority to call an extraordinary, or extra, session. The session, by law, can last up to 60 days, and has to be tailored to very specific reasons for the call. In this case, the reason for the extra session is the rise in violent crime in our state, particularly in our urban cities.
The governor has set forth six individual items he would like the Legislature address in this extra session:
- Eliminate the residency requirement for St. Louis law enforcement;
- Juvenile certification, which would require the court to determine if a juvenile should be certified for trial as an adult for the offense of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action;
- Witness statement admissibility, which would allow certain statements to be admissible in court that would otherwise not be allowed under current statute;
- Create the Pretrial Witness Protection Fund;
- Modify the offense of endangering the welfare of a child for a person who encourages a child to engage in any weapons offense; and
- Increase the penalty for a person who knowingly sells or delivers any firearm to a child less than 18 years without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.
Both the Missouri Senate and the Missouri House of Representatives will exercise caution, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to sweep across our state. There will be limited staff on-hand, and lawmakers and their staff will have access to COVID-19 testing during the upcoming extra session. I hope we can work quickly and efficiently on these very important matters and help make our state a safer place for all Missourians.
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 email@example.com and my mailing address is Room 332, State Capitol Building, Jefferson City, MO 65101.