The Missouri House is preparing to begin work on a bill the state Senate passed that would tighten restrictions on how much money cities can make from traffic tickets and fines.
The legislation, SB 5, would lower from 30 to 10 the percentage of a city’s total revenue that can come from those sources, and would make other changes to the so-called Mack’s Creek law.
House Speaker John Diehl, Junior (R-Town and Country), says the House will propose lowering that percentage.
“We’re going to specify that municipalities have to submit an annual financial report that details not only the revenue they collect from minor traffic violations, but also the total city revenue. That’s going to have to be submitted to the state auditor’s office and it’s going to be submitted under the penalty of perjury,” said Diehl.
The House will also propose giving the state auditor power to enforce the Mack’s Creek law.
“The power to bring suit against a municipality, intercepting sales tax revenue to equal any excess that a municipality is collecting under the law, and ultimately looking at holding an election to dis-incorporated the offending municipality if the behavior of that municipality is continuing and flagrant,” said Diehl.
The House also wants to disallow municipal judges charging defendants with failing to appear in court. Diehl says that charge simply piles on to the fines and jail time a defendant already faces.
“What happens now is if someone gets a minor traffic violation and they don’t appear at their first court appearance, they not only get a warrant issued against their arrest, but there’s an additional municipal which is layered on top of that called, a failure to appear charge, for which another warrant is ultimately issued,” said Diehl. “That has the effect of doubling or quadrupling the amount of fines that are assessed against the individual and puts them in a hole that they can never get out of. We’re still going to hold the individuals accountable for the underlying charge for which they’ve been accused.”
The House will begin holding hearings on that bill next week.
Video courtesy of Jonathan Lorenz, Missouri House Communications