Gov. Mike Parson says he plans to call another special session soon. The Missouri Legislature wrapped up its veto and special sessions yesterday.
Lawmakers did not override any of the governor’s vetoes of bills and they only passed two of seven crime-related items he wanted. One bill passed would remove a requirement for St. Louis first responders to live in the city. The other would create a fund to protect witnesses and their immediate family members leading up to a criminal court trial or during investigations.
At a Capitol press conference, Parson says the state will find the money to fund witness protection.
“Well we’re going to look and see what avenues we can to get that money there. You know, we’ve made a commitment to that,” says Parson. “There will be another special session on the supplemental budget sometime in October– I do know that, at some point. It may be addressed then. But you know, we’re going to see what another avenues we have to might be able to utilize to do that. But it’s something we want to get implemented as soon as we can, again to help the victims out there. We’ve just got to step it up.”
The governor says he is content with the two bills that passed because they are his two top special session agenda items.
“You know, I don’t keep score on how many bills I pass or how many I don’t,” says Parson. “It’s about making things into law that helps everyday people. You know, we’ve got a violent crime situation in this state. We need to do everything we can.”
The Legislature is made up of a supermajority of Republicans in both chambers – the same party as the governor.
“You know look, you’re not going to hit a home run every time in this building,” Parson tells reporters. “We’re very content with what we got. Anything we can do to help law enforcement, to help victims in this state to fight violent crime is a win no matter how small or how big it is.”
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, says the special session wasted $200,000 solely to boost the governor’s prospects of winning November’s General Election. The extraordinary session, which started on July 27, took almost two months to complete.
“I don’t know what the cost of special session is but maybe she could explain what the cost of 191 people that’s died in St. Louis or the 130 some odd that’s died in Kansas City. Maybe we put a value on that. I’m sure not going to,” says Parson.
A statement from Quade says Parson defunded police and other emergency responders over the summer by unilaterally slashing $2.66 million in funding from the Missouri Department of Public Safety’s budget, including eliminating $1.81 million allocated to the State Highway Patrol.
“A year ago, House Democrats strongly urged the governor to take the mounting death toll from violent crime seriously, but he ignored it until pretending to care seemed politically expedient. Even then, he spurned polices to prevent violent crime in favor of legislation focusing on crime’s aftermath, which won’t prevent a single life from being lost or family from being destroyed. Try as he might to manufacture a contrary public image, the governor’s record on public safety remains dismal,” says Quade.
Here are the bills that did not pass during the special session:
•House Bill 2 would allow an otherwise inadmissible witness statement if a “preponderance” of evidence shows the defendant engaged in wrongdoing to cause the unavailability of the witness. It would also let the Missouri Attorney General intervene in some St. Louis murder cases.
•House Bill 11 would criminalize adults who knowingly encourage, aid, or cause a child under 17 years old to commit a crime with a weapon.
•House Bill 12 would let judges decide whether juveniles 16 to 18 years old should be prosecuted as adults and possibly go to prison for certain crimes committed with weapons.
•House Bill 16 would toughen the penalty for selling or giving a firearm to someone under 18 years old to avoid or interfere with an arrest, detention, or investigation of a crime.
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