A years-long effort to bring Missouri’s criminal laws into the 21st Century is about to reach a major milestone. 

The state senate is on the verge of approving an overhaul of the state criminal code, the laws defining crimes and their punishments.  The bill is expected to go to the House this week.  The House already has approved a version of it. Some legislators and other observers had worried 1100 pages of changes was too much, so sponsors cut out about 400 pages.

Sponsor Jolie Justus. a Kansas City lawyer, has been sponsoring the bill as a work in progress for three years.  She’s been working with Senate Judiciary Chairman Bob Dixon, who is not a lawyer, to take out sections that are controversial and are important separate topics in this year’s session–weapons offenses and changes in concealed weapons laws. He says removing those sections make sure laws that are being considered in this year’s session don’t conflict with sections of the new criminal code.

the bill realigns penalty provisions and is especially harsh on those who commit crimes against children. 

Some lawmakers and others still worry about mistakes.  But Justus and Dixon say those mistakes can be taken care of in the two years before the changes would go into effect in 2017.

AUDIO: Debate I 37:04

AUDIO: debate II 7:01