For Immediate Release:
August 27, 2015

Contact: Kack Haslag
(573) 751-2853

Senator Schmitt's Reforms Go Into Effect Friday

GLENDALE - Senator Eric Schmitt R-Glendale led passage of a number of important reforms this year. Those reforms go into effect tomorrow, August 28. 

Schmitt’s highest priority, and a reform which will impact thousands of citizens, is Senate Bill 5, which reduces the amount of revenue cities can raise from traffic tickets, and reduces incentives for cities to fund bloated bureaucracies by targeting drivers. Senate Bill 5 also enacts sweeping municipal court reform and requires St. Louis County municipalities to provide a basic level of service if they are to continue in existence. 

“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 citizens these local governments are supposed to serve,” said Sen. Schmitt. “Government should exist to serve its citizens, not to extort them. Enacting this law is a big step toward ending government by speed trap and taxation by citation.” 

Senate Bill 5 requires 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. Municipal courts will be required to offer alternative payment plans and community service options to accommodate individuals who cannot pay their entire fine all at once. Further, under the new law, municipalities that do not remit excess revenue collected from traffic tickets to the county schools will face a disincorporation question on the next general election ballot. 

Another important measure that goes into effect Friday is the Missouri ABLE Act. This law, similar to 529 savings accounts for college, allows individuals living with disabilities to cover their future education, housing, transportation and related expenses in a tax-free savings account. Individual accounts can also receive funds from family members and others, up to the federal gift tax amount annually, which is currently $14,000. Individual accounts may accrue up to $325,000. 

“Most individuals living with a disability will require some sort of care for the rest of their lives, and those services can come at a high cost,” said Sen. Schmitt. “By establishing the ABLE program, we can give those citizens and their families a financially-sound way to plan ahead so they have peace of mind in knowing those funds are there to help with their long-term needs.” 

Senator Schmitt also passed the Senior Savings Protection Act. This new law protects some of our most vulnerable residents - the growing elderly population in our state. Investment brokers will be able to stop a disbursement from a senior’s account if they reasonably believe the money should not be withdrawn. The investment firm, the state, or law enforcement may further investigate the disbursement to ensure it is appropriate. If no impropriety is found, the disbursement may go forward. 

“The Senior Savings Protection Act is a common-sense solution that protects seniors as wrongdoers continue to come up with different ways to defraud our vulnerable citizens,” said Sen. Schmitt. “Our older citizens and their families can rest easier knowing there is another layer of protection against potential wrongdoing.”