Protecting Missouri’s Peace Officers (HB 57)
The Missouri House took action this week to deter crimes against law enforcement officials. House members approved legislation that would create enhanced penalties for individuals who assault officers of the law.
The legislation would increase by one degree the penalty for voluntary or involuntary manslaughter; first- or second-degree property damage; unlawful use of a weapon; rioting; or first-degree trespassing; when those crimes are committed against a law enforcement officer.
As an example, voluntary manslaughter is a class B felony under current statute, but if HB 57 becomes law, voluntary manslaughter committed against a law enforcement officer would see the penalty increased to a class A felony.
As the bill’s sponsor told her colleagues, “Hopefully these additional penalties will be a deterrent for anyone who may be considering engaging in a crime against these public servants. This law is intended to further protect those who have dedicated themselves to safeguarding our communities.”
Supporters of the bill said the enhanced penalties are necessary because crimes against law enforcement officers have increased in recent years. They also said the bill would reinforce the legislature’s commitment to law enforcement.
House Approves Bill to Create Blue Alert System (HBs 302 & 228)
In an effort to ensure law enforcement officials quickly receive the information they need to apprehend individuals who injure or kill peace officers, the Missouri House approved legislation this week to create a Blue Alert System. The system is one of the priorities of Governor Eric Greitens, who included $250,000 in funding in his budget proposal to establish the system.
Similar to the Amber and Silver Alert systems, the Blue Alert system would send out identifying information such as a physical description of the suspect and the suspect’s vehicle. Twenty-seven states already have a similar system in place. Specifically, the bill would establish the Blue Alert System to aid in the identification, location, and apprehension of any individual or individuals suspected of killing or seriously injuring a local, state, or federal law enforcement officer. The bill would require the Department of Public Safety to coordinate with local law enforcement agencies and public commercial television and radio broadcasters to effectively implement the system.
Supporters say Missouri would benefit from its own system so that it can better protect the brave men and women who protect communities across the state. The sponsor of the bill noted the legislation’s bill number, 302, is in honor of an officer who was seriously injured in the line of duty. Ballwin police officer Michael Flamion, whose badge number is 302, was shot and paralyzed from the neck down during a traffic stop in July of 2016.
House Approves Legislation to Ensure Fairness in Public Construction (HB 126)
The members of the Missouri House approved legislation this week meant to put an end to project labor agreements (PLAs) and ensure a fair and competitive bidding process for public works projects in Missouri. In effect, the bill would ban PLAs, which ensure public works contracts are almost exclusively awarded to union contractors or contractors who agree to labor union demands.
Supporters of the bill say it is important to make the bidding process for taxpayer-funded projects competitive and fair so that Missourians will get a better return on their tax dollars. They also point out that PLAs raise the cost of construction on average by 18 percent.
The sponsor, who noted that 86 percent of the workforce is non-union, said, “With the current system we see contracts awarded to union labor with a price tag that is significantly higher than what would be paid for non-union labor. When you exclude the majority of your construction work force from the bidding process, which is what PLAs do, it’s impossible to say it’s a fair and competitive system that makes good use of our tax dollars.”
If approved by both chambers and signed into law, Missouri would join 23 other states that have already enacted laws to limit or prohibit PLAs.
Honoring Missouri’s Heroes
Members of the Missouri House and Senate took time this week to honor Missouri’s military service members. Many of the state’s top military officials made their way to the State Capitol to be recognized for their service during Military Appreciation and Awareness Day. Hosted by the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission, the annual event is meant to highlight the significant contributions and sacrifices of military service members and the importance of the economic impact that military installations have on the state of Missouri.
Visitors included Major General Steve Danner, Missouri Adjutant General; Major General Kent Savre with Fort Leonard Wood; Brigadier General Paul Tibbets with Whiteman Air Force Base; and Mr. Ed Donaldson, Deputy Chief of Staff for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. The day’s events included a combined Senate and House reception in the Senate mezzanine, and a joint meeting of the Senate and House Veterans Committees. The military leaders also were honored in the House Chamber and had the opportunity to address the members of the House.
During the day, House members were able to learn more about the economic impact the military has on the state. With more than 95,000 Missourians who work in defense-related jobs, several military installations, and dozens upon dozens of military vendors and suppliers, the military industry has a significant impact on the state’s economy. In fact, for every $1 invested into the state’s military, $2.50 is generated in Missouri goods and services. Overall, the $14 billion per year in military spending over the past three fiscal years has resulted in an average of $32 billion per year in goods and services being purchased from Missouri companies and 183,000 jobs per year created in the state.
Also during Military Appreciation Day, the governor launched a new program to help returning veterans find quality jobs. Governor Greitens and Major General Kent Savre signed a Memorandum of Agreement outlining a workforce initiative for service members and their spouses. Under the new agreement, the Missouri Division of Workforce Development (DWD) and the Army will cooperate to better connect military men and women entering the civilian workforce with Missouri businesses offering apprenticeships that could lead to full-time employment.
New License Plate Unveiled to Celebrate Missouri’s 200th Anniversary
Drivers in the state will soon be able to obtain a new license plate celebrating Missouri’s bicentennial in 2021. The new plate is the result of legislation that was approved by the legislature and signed into law in 2016.
The new plate was decided on by a vote of the public that followed public hearings held by the Bicentennial License Plate Advisory Committee to take input on the design. The new design, which will be available January 1, 2019, will replace the current Missouri bluebird license plate. The new plate is meant to give all Missourians an opportunity to join in the 200-year anniversary celebration for the Show-Me State in 2021.
The new license plate’s color palette honors the Missouri state flag with the use of red, white, and blue. Waves in the bands of color represent Missouri’s rivers and are meant to acknowledge their importance as a symbol for Missouri, as waterways figured prominently in the state’s historic role as a gateway for American exploration and transportation. An image of the new plate is available online at: https://missouri2021.org/bicentennial-license-plate/
The legislation approved by the General Assembly during the 2016 legislative session established an advisory committee for the Department of Revenue to develop and approve a new motor vehicle license plate commemorating the bicentennial of Missouri. The State Historical Society of Missouri’s Bicentennial Committee also played a vital role in developing the new license plate.