The Missouri House voted overwhelmingly on Wednesday in Jefferson City to approve legislation expanding Missouri’s treatment court system to all counties.
The 141-1 vote sends the bill to the Senate.
House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, praises the bipartisan vote.
Richardson says treatment court expansion is also a priority for Governor Mike Parson (R) and for the Missouri Supreme Court.
“Missouri is a true leader in the treatment court space,” Richardson says. “We’ve demonstrated time and time again it’s an effective model. It dramatically reduces recidivism.”
Governor Parson says expanding treatment courts will allow more people to receive treatment, rather than being incarcerated in what he describes as “our already overcrowded prison system.”
Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Zel Fischer told lawmakers in January that 15 counties had no access to any type of treatment court.
State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, also praises the bipartisan vote.
During a speech on the House floor, Razer notes U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) spearheaded the creation of Missouri’s first drug treatment court in 1993, when she was Jackson County Prosecutor.
“This is something that Senator Claire McCaskill started 25 years ago,” says Razer. “One of the first in the nation. It was a brainchild of hers. It has grown since then, and it is great to see Democrats and Republicans coming together.”
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on the bill at 3:30 Thursday afternoon at the Statehouse.
The governor called lawmakers back for a special session this week on treatment court expansion and on STEM education.
The House also voted 119-23 on Wednesday to give final approval to a bill creating the “STEM Career Awareness Program.”
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