Bipartisan legislation expanding Missouri’s treatment court system to all counties will be signed into law Wednesday by the governor in two cities. Governor Mike Parson, a Republican, has scheduled bill-signing ceremonies for Wednesday afternoon in both Liberty and Springfield.

House Speaker Todd Richardson (left) speaks to Majority Leader Rob Vescovo and State Reps. Travis Fitzwater and Kevin Austin during the September 12, 2018 special session in Jefferson City (file photo courtesy of Tim Bommel at House Communications)

Missouri lawmakers overwhelmingly approved the bill during September’s special session. Senate Judiciary and Civil and Criminal Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Bob Dixon said treatment courts work.

“Giving some additional tools to the judiciary, prosecutors, law enforcement frankly, so that we can see good results is a good thing,” Dixon said.

Treatment courts include DWI and veterans treatment courts. Dixon spoke to Missourinet during the September special session, where his Senate committee approved the bill unanimously.

Dixon says treatment courts have “a tremendous record of success.”

“This measure will, we believe, enable courts to be more effective, to be more precise,” said Dixon.

The Missouri House approved the bill in September by a 141-1 vote.

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.”

The bill is sponsored by State Rep. Kevin Austin, R-Springfield, the House Assistant Majority Leader.

“If there is a county or a circuit that does not have, for example, a drug court but they have a candidate, a defendant that’s been charged with a crime that would be an ideal candidate for a drug court, they can transfer that defendant from their county to a county that does have a drug court,” Austin testified in September, before Chairman Dixon’s committee.

Parson will sign the bill Wednesday at 1:30 at the James S. Rooney Justice Center in Liberty, where he’ll be joined by several lawmakers, including State Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City. Arthur’s district includes Liberty.

The governor will also sign the bill Wednesday afternoon at 3:45 at the Greene County Historic Courthouse in Springfield. Senator Dixon, Representative Austin and several other lawmakers will join him there.

The bill was a top priority for both House Speaker Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, and House Minority Leader Gina Mitten, D-St. Louis, during the special session.

State Rep. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City, notes Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill spearheaded the creation of Missouri’s first drug treatment court in 1993, when she was the Jackson County Prosecutor.

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