Governor Jay Nixon will announce today whether he will veto or sign a bill that would lower the cap on how much revenue cities in Missouri can make from traffic tickets and fines.
The bill the legislature sent him, SB 5, would lower the cap created in the so-called Macks Creek law from 30-percent statewide to 20-percent for most of the state, but to 12.5-percent in St. Louis County.
The bill would also put a cap on fines combined with court costs for minor traffic offenses at $300, and would bar cities from leveling additional charges on someone for missing a court date.
St. Louis County representative Clem Smith (D-Velda Village Hills) wants Nixon to veto that bill.
“It’s just not a St. Louis County issue. I don’t understand why St. Louis County, what, has the most horrible cities in the world or something like that? [The same percentage] should apply to everything,” Smith told Missourinet in May.
The law earned its name from the former town of Macks Creek that became known as a notorious speed trap that made most of its revenue from tickets and fines.
“Macks Creek was not in St. Louis County. It was in a rural area,” said Smith. “So the standards, the municipal standards as far as the courts, and the standards as far as the percentage, should have been the same statewide. I feel no need that there should have been a difference in St. Louis County.”
Backers of the bill said the issue of cities making too much revenue from fines and fees was more acute in St. Louis County .
During the legislative session some said the bill would address one of the social issues that came to light after the federal investigations of practices in Ferguson, which stemmed from the Michael Brown shooting.
Nixon had called for municipal court reform but has not hinted whether he is satisfied with this legislation. Regarding the different percentages, he told reporters in May that wasn’t his idea. “As you started out you hoped that it would be a standard across the board but I’m not sure that difference is enough to stop me from looking at it,” said Nixon.
Nixon will announce his decision at 2 at the Eastern District Court of Appeals in St. Louis.