Document: Missouri House Bill 66View
Document: Missouri House Bill 46View
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed Monday the two bills that state lawmakers approved last week during the special session he called this summer to address violent crime.
Parson said in a news release, "We have a serious problem with violent crime here in Missouri, and we have seen it escalate even more in recent months. HB 66 and HB 46 are valuable tools that will build on our efforts to combat violent crime, support law enforcement officers, and make our communities safer."
HB 66 creates a pre-trial witness protection fund that law enforcement agencies can request money through to protect witnesses and their families, including by paying for housing.
The Department of Public Safety would authorize disbursements from the fund — for which lawmakers still need to budget money.
HB 46 loosens residency requirements for St. Louis first responders, which advocates have said will help with recruiting and retention for under-staffed agencies, and aid officers' mental health.
According to the news release from Parson's office, "Missouri has seen rapid increases in violent crime rates this year, primarily in the state's urban areas. In St. Louis, there have been more homicides in 2020 than all of 2019, putting the state on track to have its deadliest year on record. As of September 18, there have been 195 murders in St. Louis so far this year compared to 194 in 2019."
Parson plans to hold ceremonial signings of the legislation throughout the week in different parts of the state.
Lawmakers did not pass most of Parson's anti-violent crime agenda during special session — including proposals about juvenile offenders, weapons crimes and concurrent jurisdiction by the state attorney general over St. Louis homicide cases.