Representative Chris Kelly (D-Columbia) has issued an open letter to fellow lawmakers regarding Governor Jay Nixon’s (D) reported position that he would veto the legislation moving through the legislature that would rewrite Missouri’s criminal code.
A Nixon spokesperson has reportedly said due to the size of the bill and the possibility that it includes mistakes, he would rather see it broken up into a series of bills and would not sign the current package, that has ranged between 700 and around 1000 pages at times through its development.
“Reasonable caution in Governors and Legislators-even legislators who are running for statewide office-is prudent,” writes Kelly, “We should not, however, allow political timidity to derail the passage of this long overdue, thoroughly vetted, and vital legislative reform.”
Kelly says in his letter committees and subcommittees in both chambers held numerous work sessions and hearings on the issue. The state Supreme Court has agreed to have its Standing Committee on Criminal Procedure review the bill after passage, and the bill has been drafted with a delayed effective date of January 1, 2016 that Kelly says he will propose pushing back a year. Altogether Kelly says the bill would be studied by the Supreme Court and the Governor and the legislature will have at least four chances to fix errors.
Kelly writes, “During my eighteen years in the General Assembly I have seen many long and complex bills but I have never seen one with this degree of initial vetting and post passage review. Mistakes are always possible but in this case the General Assembly and the Missouri Bar and Bench have done all that is reasonably possible to provide comfort to even the most timid politicians.