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Serving in the Missouri General Assembly since 2007
Legislative Column for the Week of Jan. 26, 2015

First Month of 2015 Session Concludes

The Missouri Senate concluded the first month of the 2015 session this week. Since opening day on Jan. 7, senators have been busy filing new measures, receiving committee assignments for the 98th General Assembly, and considering proposed legislation in public hearings. The majority of our time in the initial weeks is spent in committee, where we vet legislation and hear from the public and experts on ways the measure would affect the state.


Reforming Missouri's Payday Loan Industry

For a number of years, the Legislature has attempted to reform the payday loan industry. These businesses extend short-term, high-interest loans, usually to people with few, if any, other options. These are generally individuals or families who are suddenly faced with a financial emergency or have fallen on hard times. They need money quickly, so they agree to a loan with huge interest rates, and only a short time frame to pay it back. If the customer doesn’t pay the loan on time, it’s renewed, and that can happen up to six times.


Utilizing Educational Opportunities to Reduce Recidivism Rates

Recidivism is an ongoing problem within our state. Although it has lowered since the 1980s, the numbers are still discouraging. According to the most recent report from the Department of Corrections, a first-time offender has a 26 percent chance of returning to prison. Once they are incarcerated again, however, the recidivism rate jumps to more than 50 percent within five years.

This hurts our state in many ways. First off, those offenders, if properly rehabilitated, could become contributing members of society; honest, hard-working taxpayers that paid for their crime, and then moved forward. It also adds to a corrections budget that already takes up a substantial chunk of general revenue, money that could be put toward other pressing priorities.  


Ending the Lifelong Stigma of Past Crimes

In the last few years, lawmakers have debated a number of bills regarding the expungement of certain types of arrest records. It’s an issue the Legislature has wrestled with:  how long should a person be forced to carry the stigma of a past crime? Because of the Internet, it’s now easier than ever to check a person’s criminal background. Every mistake is out there for public viewing. Even though that person has submitted to the punishment doled out by the state, they continue to pay for their crime. It can limit their housing options, has an enormous impact on their ability to find a decent job and affects them emotionally and socially.

Under current Missouri law, there is a system by which individuals can petition to have certain criminal records expunged. The list of eligible crimes is extremely limited, though, and the wait to even request the expungement is decades. Despite public support to overhaul this process, the General Assembly has yet to take action. This needs to change.


Protecting the Rights of Tenants and Homeowners

Shortly after the 2008 recession, during the collapse of the national housing market, we saw the number of foreclosures skyrocket. Homeowners were pushed from their houses. Tenants were given little over a week to move if a new owner bought their rental property in a foreclosure sale. It was a devastating time for many individuals and families. It also opened many lawmakers’ eyes to how the current system is rigged against tenants and homeowners.

I’ve filed a handful of measures to rectify that issue. Senate Bill 181 changes the notice of requirement that a new owner must give to a tenant following a foreclosure sales from 10 business days to vacate the premises to 90 days. This will give renters more time to find new housing arrangements.


Giving Communities More Power to Enact Change

Throughout my time in the Legislature, I’ve fought for measures that empower neighborhoods and communities to enact the changes they wish to see. Urban areas are faced with a number of unique problems, but I believe many can be faced at the local level, by people who are familiar with the streets and families who make up a neighborhood, including local leaders and dedicated activists.


Proposed Settlement Reached in Red-Light Camera Class Action Lawsuit

Since their implementation, red light cameras have been a source of contention. The legality of these cameras has been questioned by experts, debated in the Legislature, and weighed in the court of public opinion. Many feel these cameras do nothing to promote public safety, and often result in people receiving tickets that should not have. 

Eventually, a class action lawsuit was filed against America Traffic Solutions, the company that operates red-light cameras in numerous cities throughout Missouri, including here in Kansas City. It was recently announced that the business has agreed to a proposed settlement of around $16 million. The money would go toward refunding 20 percent of the fines individuals paid for red-light camera infractions. 



Senator Curls' Biography
Senator Shalonn "Kiki" Curls, a Democrat, represents part of Jackson County (District 9) in the Missouri Senate. She won a special election to the Missouri Senate in February 2011, and won re-election to the Senate in 2012 after having serving in the Missouri House since 2007. <<more

Capitol Office:
201 W. Capitol Ave.
Room 434
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 751-3158

District Office:
4609 Paseo Blvd.
Suite 102
Kansas City, MO 64110
(816) 923-6000

Affordable Care Act
The federal Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA, puts you in charge of your health care. Under this law, passed in 2010, you have the stability and flexibility you need to make informed choices about your health. <<more

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