For Immediate Release:
Feb. 10, 2015

Contact: Kack Haslag
(573) 751-2853

Senate Advances Another Priority Early in Session
Measure Will Rein in Abuses in Traffic Ticket Schemes

JEFFERSON CITY— The Missouri State Senate advanced a measure today (2-12) that will reform the abusive practices in some municipalities that unintentionally push the poorest residents in the state further into poverty. Senate Leader Tom Dempsey, R-St. Charles, said some municipalities are reliant on revenue from fines and fees to operate. This reliance has destroyed the bonds of trust between the people and the municipal court system. Senate Bill 5 will reduce cities’ threshold for general operating revenue coming from traffic fines and is one of the Senate Leader’s top priorities.

“Despite the best efforts of the ‘Macks Creek Law,’ cities across the state continue to abuse traffic enforcement and rely on the fines generated to support their own governmental bureaucracy,” said Dempsey. “Traffic tickets should be about safety promotion, not revenue collection. We should not be putting our law enforcement officers in the position of being revenue generators.”

Dempsey said many of these municipalities build line items into their annual budgets for projected revenue growth from increased traffic violations. Some municipalities are even turning a profit off of the fines.

Senate Bill 5 reduces the threshold for the general operating revenue coming from traffic fines for cities, towns, or villages from 30 percent to 20 percent by January 2016, and to 10 percent by January 2017. Fines levied on interstate highways above five percent of annual general revenue will be distributed to schools in the county. Likewise, revenue from any fines in excess of 10 percent would be distributed to local schools, but a violation of the 10 percent threshold will trigger additional penalties.

Municipalities in violation of this provision must remit the excess amount to local schools; failing to do so, the proportionate revenue from local sales tax will be withheld. The municipality will also be the subject to an election that, upon voter approval, would disincorporate the municipality.

Bill sponsor Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said the current system is designed to extract more and more from Missouri citizens.

“This scheme of ‘taxation by citation’ has created a system of traffic ticket tricks, and is little more than an ATM for bloated big government budgets that have hit the poor especially hard,” said Schmitt. “This abusive system deserves thoughtful reform and these provisions will help curb abuse and move us forward.”

The bill will now move to the House for consideration. To learn more about this bill and others, or to track their progress, visit

Lauren Hieger, Senate Majority Caucus Communications Director
(573) 751-7266 —