Senator Denny Hoskins Capitol Report
This week the full Senate returned to the chamber for the first time since Aug. 7. When senators last gathered, we passed Senate Bill 1 and sent it to the House of Representatives for its consideration. The bill we passed early last month included six provisions the governor requested when he called lawmakers back to Jefferson City for an extra legislative session focused on solutions to violent crime in Missouri’s cities. He subsequently expanded his call, adding a request for a bill granting the attorney general “concurrent jurisdiction” to prosecute murder cases in the City of St. Louis.
Over the course of the past month, the House reintroduced five of the governor’s original requests as separate bills and referred them to the Senate. Several of the House bills were nearly identical to the provisions the Senate approved as part of SB 1. When these measures came before the Senate we were able to pass three of the bills quickly, with only a minor grammatical change to one of the measures. The two remaining bills generated significant discussion and saw important changes.
With the Senate making changes to three of the House bills, the extra session called by the governor is not yet complete. The revised bills will each require an additional vote in the lower chamber, but I believe we are finally coming to an end of the extra session. Here are brief descriptions of the five bills approved by the Senate this week:
- House Bill 2 allows certain statements to be admissible without the witness actually appearing in court. To qualify, prosecutors must establish that a defendant has attempted to intimate a witness or otherwise prevent them from testifying. This bill was amended to include the concurrent jurisdiction legislation requested by the governor. The House of Representatives will have to approve this change.
- House Bill 11 makes it a crime to encourage or cause a child to commit a weapons offense. A technical change in the language of this bill sends it back to the House for another vote.
- House Bill 16 increases the penalty for transferring a firearm to a child without a parental consent from a misdemeanor to a felony. A Senate substitute bill protects the right of parents to control their children’s access to firearms, and the House must approve the new language.
- House Bill 46 removes a city residency requirement for public safety employees in St. Louis. The change is intended to ease chronic staffing shortages at the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. This measure was “truly agreed and finally passed,” so it’s ready for the governor’s signature.
- House Bill 66 creates a “Pretrial Witness Protection Services Fund,” which law enforcement agencies may access to provide security for witnesses in criminal proceedings. This bill now goes to the governor’s desk.
Unless the House of Representatives requests a conference committee for any of the three outstanding bills, the Senate’s participation in this year’s extra session should be done. This session took longer than most people expected, but we did successfully accomplish most of the work the governor put before us. The General Assembly is scheduled to return to Jefferson City on Sept. 16 for veto session, but otherwise, formal legislative activity in the Senate appears to be complete for the year.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.