Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Legislative Column for Aug. 7, 2020

Crime Bill Moves Forward

The Missouri Senate returned to the State Capitol to complete its work on legislation combatting violent crime in our state.

This week, the Senate’s Transportation, Infrastructure and Public Safety Committee voted Senate Bill 1 out of committee and sent it to the Senate floor. The bill was debated late into the night on Aug. 6, before being perfected and ultimately voted out of the chamber the following day. The Senate’s version of the bill includes six major components, each addressing a portion of the governor’s call for the extra session:

  • Removes residency requirements for police officers in St. Louis City, as long as they live within a one-hour response time. This provision ends after three years, unless renewed by the General Assembly.
  • Requires certification hearings for 14 to 18 year olds charged with the offenses of unlawful use of weapons and armed criminal action in order to determine whether they should be tried as adults.
  • Allows certain hearsay evidence to be admissible in court proceedings.
  • Creates the “Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund” to aid law enforcement agencies in providing security for witnesses, potential witnesses and their immediate families during criminal proceedings or investigations.
  • Adds providing weapons to a child to the offense of endangering the welfare of a child.
  • Changes 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 from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class E felony.

While I do have some concerns about the costs associated with this proposal, I believe the bill itself will help make our state safer. By removing the residency requirements for police officers in St. Louis, I believe we can help St. Louis get more officers on the streets to stop violent crime. According to the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, they are currently short 142 officers, but hopefully these positions can be filled by having access to a larger pool of candidates. Several of the other provisions work to ensure that those who commit dangerous, violent felonies are held accountable for their actions as well.

Senate Bill 1 now heads to the Missouri House of Representatives for further consideration.

Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at