Missouri’s special legislative session on violent crime is underway at the Statehouse in Jefferson City. The Missouri Senate gaveled-in Monday at noon and listened to about an hour of floor speeches.
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, says a Senate committee will hold a hearing on the crime bill Tuesday afternoon at 12:45 in the Senate chamber.
“The Transportation (Infrastructure and) Public Safety Committee will be meeting and hearing the legislation at that time,” Schatz says.
The committee is chaired by State Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff. With the hearing taking place in the Senate chamber, public seating for Tuesday’s hearing will be in the Capitol’s fourth-floor gallery.
Pro Tem Schatz says there’s agreement in the Legislature on the majority of Governor Mike Parson’s special session call on violent crime. Schatz says eliminating the residency requirement for St. Louis Police officers is the most controversial proposal. The Sullivan Republican tells Missourinet it’s still the right thing to do.
“We’re 150-plus law enforcement officers short in the city of St. Louis right now. Residency will help solve some of that problem,” says Schatz.
St. Louis Police Chief John Hayden testified in January that the residency requirement is the greatest challenge that his department has with recruitment and retention.
St. Louis has had at least 143 homicides in 2020. KMOV-TV reports that compares to about 110 at this time last year. Kansas City has now had 110 homicides in 2020, a 35 percent increase from last year.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, and Missouri’s Legislative Black Caucus are calling for legislation to utilize unused funds from the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) to support programs for gun violence survivors.
“Missouri has failed our survivors of gun violence by not properly utilizing available VOCA funds,” Leader Quade says, in a statement. “The governor’s special session to address violent crimes is the perfect avenue for us to help these survivors and provide money for efforts that stem gun violence before it starts.”
Quade and House Democrats are calling on Governor Parson to utilize $4 million of Missouri’s average annual VOCA funding, that would provide assistance to eligible community-based gun violence intervention groups. Quade says while the VOCA funds directly assist crime victims, they also work to mitigate violent gun crimes from happening in the future.
Governor Parson (R) told Capitol reporters on Monday that he’s narrowly focused on violent crime and does not intend to expand the special session call. He was not specifically asked about VOCA.
The governor says witness protection and juvenile certification are key parts of the call, along with eliminating the residency requirement for St. Louis Police officers.
Parson also says last week’s roundtable discussions with local leaders and law enforcement officers about violent crime were productive. The governor traveled to St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia. He also went to eastern Missouri’s Hannibal and Cape Girardeau.
“One of the reasons I went to Hannibal, Cape Girardeau is I really wanted to drive the point home that this violent crime is just not a Kansas City, St. Louis issue,” Parson says.
The governor says violent crime impacts all Missourians, adding that Hannibal recently had a homicide.
Click here to listen to Brian Hauswirth’s two-minute interview with Missouri Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, which was recorded on July 27, 2020 at the Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City:
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