Legislation aimed to create transparency for the state’s Legal Expense Fund was approved Thursday by a Missouri House committee in Jefferson City.

Representative Paul Fitzwater (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

The committee voted 7-0 to approve State Rep. Paul Fitzwater’s (R-Potosi) bill to require the Attorney General to submit monthly reports to legislative leaders detailing lawsuits against the DOC.

State Rep. Jim Hansen (R-Frankford), who chairs the House Subcommittee on Corrections Workforce Environment and Conduct, notes House Minority Leader Gail McCann Beatty’s (D-Kansas City) bill would require Attorney General Josh Hawley to submit monthly reports detailing all activity concerning the fund.

“And I’ve seen the report from the Attorney General and the other departments and some of the settlements and lawsuits that have been made out of other agencies, and there’s no question there’s some issues there that need to be looked at,” Hansen says.

But Hansen notes his subcommittee has been asked to investigate Corrections.

The Missouri House Budget Committee voted 34-0 earlier this month to approve Beatty’s version.

Fitzwater, who chairs the House Corrections and Public Institutions Committee, tells Missourinet that he and Hansen met Thursday with House Speaker Todd Richardson (R-Poplar Bluff). Fitzwater says the Speaker will look at both versions. Chairman Fitzwater is hopeful the Speaker will combine Fitzwater’s state Legal Expense Fund legislation with Beatty’s, or allow both of them to go through.

The Potosi Republican tells Missourinet this is a bipartisan issue.

“I look forward to working with the Minority Floor Leader and getting this passed through the House and hopefully over to the Senate and getting it done,” says Fitzwater.

Fitzwater and Beatty have filed similar but separate bills. The main difference is that Fitzwater’s bill involves the Department of Corrections only.

The 2017 session ends May 12.