Missouri senators are making their way back to Jefferson City for the second time in a month. Back in July, the governor asked lawmakers to come back to the Capitol to pass legislation aimed at curbing violent crime in our state.
Since then, senators spent time crafting, discussing and passing Senate Bill 1, a comprehensive approach to violent crime that — in my opinion — not only addressed the governor’s concerns, but also looked at differences between urban and rural Missouri without heavy-handedly favoring one over the other.
By early August, after its passage in the Senate, SB 1 moved to the Missouri House of Representatives. The governor then added an element to his call for this extraordinary session, which lead the House to scrap what we had done and put forth new measures, each tailored to meet the requirements of the governor’s call. They have finished their work and the proverbial ball is back in our court.
Missouri senators are now looking at House Bill 2, which relates to the admissibility of certain witness statements; House Bill 11, which would modify first-degree child endangerment offenses; House Bill 16, which seeks to make changes to unlawful weapons transfer laws in relation to minors; House Bill 46, which would change residency requirements for St. Louis police officers; and House Bill 66, which would create the Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund.
Some of the language in these measures mirrors what we have already passed, while some will be new. Our job will be to cull through these bills, hear what people have to say about them and make a decision from there. By law, an extra session can last as long as 60 days. The session started July 27.
As I have written here before, these are not easy decisions to make. The people affected by these crimes want answers, they want justice and they want solutions. Our job in the Missouri legislature is to provide them with the tools to accomplish these goals.