Sen. Justin Brown’s Legislative Column for Sept. 3, 2020

Taking Steps to Reduce Crime

The Senate returned to the State Capitol this week to complete its work on anti-crime legislation requested by the governor. Since the full Senate last convened on Aug. 7, the House of Representatives deconstructed the Senate’s crime control legislation, Senate Bill 1, and reintroduced that bill’s various provisions as separate measures. This week, the Senate took up the five bills passed by the House.

Three of the House bills were essentially identical to provisions already passed by the Senate, and those measures were quickly approved when they came up for a vote. One of these measures required a minor grammatical change. The Senate also made major revisions to two other House bills. The three bills that received changes will need to be voted on again by the House of Representatives before they can go to the governor’s desk.

These five bills were approved by the Senate this week:

  • House Bill 2 allows certain otherwise inadmissible witness statements to be entered into court when a defendant has intimidated the witness or prevented them from appearing. The Senate amended this bill to grant Missouri’s attorney general “concurrent jurisdiction” to prosecute murder cases in the City of St. Louis. This provision was requested by the governor on Aug. 10, as he expanded the scope of his original call for this year’s extra legislative session.
  • House Bill 11 expands the definition of endangering the welfare of a child, making it a crime to encourage or cause a child to commit a weapons offense.
  • House Bill 16 raises the penalty for transferring a firearm to a child without a parent or guardian’s consent. Due to concerns about grandparents and others running afoul of the law, the House made changes that some critics believed removed parental oversight of children’s access to firearms. The Senate version addressed these objections while ensuring unlawful firearms transfers could be charged as felonies. The House must approve the changes before the bill goes to the governor.
  • House Bill 46 addresses a chronic shortage of police officers in St. Louis by temporally lifting a residency requirement for the city’s public safety employees. This bill only awaits the governor’s signature before becoming law.
  • House Bill 66 creates a “Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund.” This fund will be used to provide security to witnesses in criminal proceedings. This bill now heads to the governor’s desk.

This year’s extra legislative session lasted longer and became more contentious than I would have expected. The governor did not receive every measure he asked for, but the General Assembly did enact changes that will assist prosecutors, encourage witness cooperation and help the City of St. Louis recruit police officers. It’s my hope the measures we approved will have a positive impact in the effort to combat violent crime in our cities.

Flags for Veterans

You can show your support for our veterans by purchasing a flag to be placed at the Veterans Memorial Park in Rolla. The 18-by-12-inch flags will be supplied by the South Central Regional Veterans Group, and will be placed in the park in time for the Everyday Heroes at the Park event, scheduled for Nov. 7. The flags will remain in place through Veterans Day, Nov. 11. Flags are available for $5 from any committee member, or by calling Glenn Gibson at 573-528-6761.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at for more information.