For Immediate Release:
May 7, 2015

Contact: Kack Haslag
(573) 751-2853

Missouri Legislature Approves Sen. Schmitt's Reform Bill to Help End Abusive Traffic Schemes

JEFFERSON CITY – Both chambers of the Missouri legislature have passed sweeping bipartisan reform legislation sponsored by Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, to help end abusive traffic ticket schemes that have hurt the poor and damaged the relationship between law enforcement and citizens in areas such as Ferguson, Missouri.

Sen. Schmitt’s legislation, Senate Bill 5, was passed by the Missouri Senate and House today and will now be delivered to the Governor.  Under current law, municipalities may fund up to 30 percent of its budget with traffic fines. The Schmitt reform would reduce that number to 12.5 percent in St. Louis County municipalities and 20 percent for other areas. 

“We must rein in the ongoing practice of municipalities - especially in the St. Louis area - of drumming up local revenue through a rigged system of excessive traffic tickets, which is extracting more each year from the citizens these local governments are supposed to serve,” said Sen. Schmitt.  “Government should exist to serve its citizens, not extort them. Passing this bill is a big step toward ending government by speed trap and taxation by citation.”  

In addition to a reduction in how much of a municipality’s budget may come from traffic fines, the bill also requires all St Louis County municipalities to meet minimum standards, including a balanced annual budget, police department accreditation, access to a complete set of ordinances and other measures to reform local government. 

Along with a succinct definition of revenue, the bill also includes a procedure for how a municipality reports its percentage of revenue from traffic tickets. 

“A very important part of this bill is the clarity it provides for municipalities and for drivers,” Schmitt said. “By putting in place an inclusive definition of revenue, municipalities will know specifically how their budgets are funded.”

Under the legislation, municipalities that do not remit excess revenue they have collected from traffic tickets to the county schools would face a disincorporation question on the next general election ballot. Residents of the municipality violating the law would be given a say as to whether or not the city should continue to be in existence. Therefore, if a St Louis County municipality funds more than 12.5 percent of its budget from traffic tickets and doesn’t hand over the excess to local schools, its residents will decide if the city should continue.


The bill was truly agreed to and finally passed in the Senate by a vote 31-3. Then approved in the House by a vote of 134-25, sending the legislation to Governor Nixon. Senator Schmitt urged Governor Nixon to sign the legislation and join the bipartisan majorities in the Senate and House to enact this reform.