A crime package is halfway through the Missouri Legislature. So is an updated plan that would freeze the property tax increases of senior citizens. Both bills are sponsored by Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, R-Parkville.

Current state law allows Missouri counties to stop property tax increases for homeowner taxpayers who are eligible for Social Security benefits. The Missouri Senate has approved Luetkemeyer’s plan that would clarify that eligible homeowners must be 62 or older to qualify.

The reason for the proposed change is because questions have been raised about whether certain seniors are excluded, including Missouri teachers who participate in a state pension plan instead of Social Security.

Meanwhile, the Missouri Senate has passed Luetkemeyer’s crime package. The plan includes “Blair’s Law,” which would create a criminal offense for firing gunshots in the air to celebrate. In addition, it would increase the punishment for harming or killing law enforcement animals from the current class C misdemeanor to as much as a class D felony, depending on the severity of the animal’s injuries.

The bill would also increase the minimum age from 12 to 14 years old for a minor to be charged as an adult for any felony. It would clarify that 12 is the minimum age in which a minor could be on trial as an adult for certain offenses, such as first- and second-degree murder and first-degree assault or robbery.

Furthermore, the package would let the Missouri Office of Prosecution Service create a conviction review unit to investigate claims of innocence of any defendant, including those who plead guilty.

The unit would consist of two attorneys hired by the executive director of the Missouri Office of Prosecution Services, an investigator, paralegal, and other administrative staff. The Director shall be an ex officio member of the unit.

Once the review is complete, the unit is responsible for presenting its findings either to the prosecuting attorney who prosecuted the case or, if the review was requested by the Attorney General, special prosecutor, or other prosecuting attorney’s office, to the office who requested the review. Such prosecuting attorney’s office is not required to accept or follow the findings and recommendations. Any prosecuting or circuit attorney may also file a motion to vacate or set aside the judgment while a conviction review unit is completing a review pursuant to this act.

The bill would add 911 dispatchers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, or volunteer or full-time paid firefighters as eligible first responder personnel to receive services from the Critical Incident Stress Management Program of the Department of Public Safety.

Both bills head to the House for a second review.

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