On Monday, July 27th, the Missouri General Assembly gaveled in a Special Session called by Governor Mike Parson to address ‘violent crime.’ Although substantive work did not begin until after the August 4th Primary Election, the state Senate managed to pass the Governor’s reform package as an all-encompassing omnibus bill, Senate Bill 1.
Meanwhile, the state House of Representatives, fearing a lack of votes to pass such an extensive piece of legislation as SB1, divided the six issues into six separate bills and, therefore, six separate votes. Now, those House bills are individually working their way through various committees before eventually making it to the floor for a debate and vote by the entire House.
As a reminder, Governor Parson’s original call for a Special Session included one proposal that would increase the penalty for a person who knowingly sells or delivers any firearm to a child less than 18 years of age without the consent of the child’s parent or guardian.
Another focuses on the legality of trying a juvenile as an adult for the offense of unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action. Other topics include a debate over residency requirements for St. Louis law enforcement, modifications to the offense of endangering the welfare of a child with regard to a weapons offense, as well as new funding for pretrial witness protection and changes to the admissibility of certain witness statements in court.
Although the legislature has yet to finish deliberating over the initial six issues Governor Parson called this Special Session for, on August 10th he decided to add another item to their to-do list. In conjunction with Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, the Governor expanded the scope of this Special Session to include the topic of concurrent jurisdiction for St. Louis. Such a provision would enable the Attorney General and his office to prosecute murder cases in the area overseen by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office. This provision will now go through the Senate and House during this Special Session.
The Chamber will keep members apprised of any legislation passed during this Special Session and will continue to advocate, along with the U.S. and Missouri Chambers of Commerce for another Special Session, possibly to occur in September in conjunction with the annual, regularly scheduled Veto Session, to address COVID-19 related business liability as well as budgetary concerns including online sales tax collection and funding for education.