Challenges Coming Through Committee
In the Senate’s Judiciary Committee this week, we heard Senate Bill 889, which expands the scope of the Missouri attorney general’s office by giving it concurrent jurisdiction to take over homicide and carjacking cases in the City of St. Louis. This legislation deliberately singles out the St. Louis City circuit attorney’s office and is unprecedented in our state’s history. The current process within the Attorney General’s office is to only intervene in cases when requested by the sitting prosecutor or if there’s a conflict of interest. If the General Assembly is serious about prosecutors going after gun-related crimes, the Legislature should not have passed laws making it harder to successfully prosecute those crimes.
You see, in 2016, the General Assembly overrode the governor’s veto of Senate Bill 656 to implement sweeping changes to Missouri’s firearm laws. The bill, which is now law, allows for permitless conceal and carry and enacted a “stand your ground” law, which expands opportunities for citizens to use deadly force outside of their homes or property. This bill changes unlawful use of a weapon and lowers the penalty for committing this crime. The General Assembly should reconsider past actions in weakening our state’s gun laws.
One positive bill coming through the Judiciary Committee is Senate Bill 857. This bill creates the Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund, which will be administered by the Missouri Department of Public Safety. The fund will be used to support law enforcement agencies providing security for witnesses, potential witnesses and their families in criminal proceedings or investigations. Right now, we have law enforcement agencies and even individual officers paying out of their own pocket to relocate witnesses to keep them out of harm’s way. That shouldn’t be happening. By providing law enforcement agencies with the resources they need, SB 857 aims to keep witnesses safe and help bring more criminals to justice.
In the Senate’s Education Committee, we heard Senate Joint Resolution 50. This is a proposed constitutional amendment which, if approved by voters, would require students participating in single-gender events or activities organized by a statewide activity association to participate in the event corresponding to the student’s biological sex as determined by their birth certificate. This legislation is an attempt to supersede the Missouri State High School Activities Association’s (MSHSAA) current rules and regulations regarding transgender students. For around three hours in a packed committee hearing room, committee members heard from parents, students and others about the negative impact this constitutional amendment would have on our state. Many are concerned about the violence, bullying, intimidation and undue stress this could bring to transgender students. What do you think about this issue? I look forward to hearing from you.
Thank you for your interest in the legislative process. I look forward to hearing from you on the issues that are important to you this legislative session. If there is anything my office can do for you, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3599.