Picking Up the Pace
Coming back from the legislative spring recess, the Missouri Senate had one of its most productive weeks of the 2022 session. Prior to our mid-session break, we had passed fewer than a dozen bills. The tempo really picked up this week, and we passed several Senate bills, sending them onto the House for its consideration. We also perfected several other measures, and those should move forward next week.
Among the measures to clear the Senate this week was the second component of my effort to prevent future attempts to defund the Kansas City Police Department. Last May, the City Council in Kansas City tried to strip more than $42 million out of the KCPD’s budget. My Senate Bill 678, which passed out of the Senate before we left for recess, raises the minimum funding threshold for the department. A related measure, Senate Joint Resolution 38, passed this week. That legislation asks voters to approve a change to the Missouri Constitution, allowing the Legislature to revise the KCPD funding statute without conflicting with Missouri’s Hancock Amendment.
Unlike every other municipal police department in Missouri, the Kansas City Police Department is subject to state control. Members of the city’s Board of Police Commissioners are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate. State statute requires the city to spend at least 20% of its budget on the police department. Passage of my two measures would increase the minimum funding level to 25% of general revenue and ensure the KCPD has the resources it needs to keep the community safe.
Also this week, I was pleased Senate Bill 775 passed out of the Senate. This measure combines three different bills, each relating to survivors of sexual assault. The result of nearly a year’s work by the Missouri Rights of Victims of Sexual Assault Task Force, the bill reflects recommendations from members of law enforcement, health care professionals and victims’ rights advocates. As chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I oversaw the effort to roll the separate bills into one. The bill provides protections for survivors to ensure they are not subject to harassment and further victimization by defense lawyers who might attempt to pry into past sexual conduct. The measure also includes a revised “Sexual Assault Survivors Bill of Rights.” Certain provisions of a previous Bill of Rights for victims of sexual assaults were recently ruled unconstitutional by the Missouri Supreme Court. The legislation passed this week addresses the issues and will help survivors receive the services necessary to overcome their trauma.
It is my great honor to represent the citizens of Platte and Buchanan counties in the Missouri Senate. Please contact my office at (573) 751-2183, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/mem34.