The Missouri Legislature has given final approval to a wide-ranging crime package.

The bill would bolster penalties for assault on a law enforcement animal, streamline the process to clear criminal records and create a conviction review unit to give Missourians a chance to have their day in court.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville, sponsored the bill. He explains the additions the House of Representatives made to the bill.

“The failure to appear language which basically says that you cannot issue a bench warrant for someone’s arrest for non-moving infractions. The second provision is a penalty enhancement for knowingly distributing a substance that’s laced with fentanyl that results in someone’s death,” he added. “Finally, we have a provision that would authorize restitution for individuals who are wrongfully convicted and subsequently released from prison.”

Regarding assault on a law enforcement animal, Luetkemeyer said the purpose is to be consistent with other property damage crimes that do not involve a living creature. It was named Max’s Law – in honor of a St. Joseph police canine officer who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2021 while he and his partner were serving a warrant.

Another key piece in the bill would create “Blair’s Law”, which elevates the charges for reckless discharge of a firearm, or “celebratory gunfire” within or into the limits of a municipality. It would be a class A misdemeanor for the first offense, a class E felony for the second offense and a class D felony for any third or subsequent offenses.

The item is in honor of 11-year-old Blair Shanahan Lane. She died at the age of 11 after a bullet from celebratory gunfire struck her in the neck in her Kansas City backyard on July 4, 2011.

Sen. Brian Williams, D-University City, is behind the provision dealing with streamlining the process to clear criminal records.

The wrongful convictions of Kevin Strickland and Lamar Johnson have convinced Williams that Missouri needs a statewide unit dedicated to reviewing convictions. That’s the other provision Williams is behind. Strickland spent about 43 years and Johnson spent 28 years behind prison walls before being found innocent and freed.

Sen. Luetkemeyer also said that there’s a penalty enhancement provision for a felon in possession of a firearm.

Senate Bill 189 next heads to the desk of Gov. Mike Parson.

Click here for more information on the crime package.

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