JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – A massive omnibus crime bill – over 150 pages long – passed through the Senate Monday afternoon along party lines.
SB 663, from Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield, started as a crimes bill but became something of a Frankenstein’s monster over weeks of debate so that it covered everything from bans on the shackling of juvenile and pregnant women to the implementation of the stand your ground law.
Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph, even poked fun at the legislation just before voting for it after Dixon called it a bill that had become a broad piece about the “administration of justice.”
“As long as you agree that drawing maps for land preparation and body cameras is all for the administration of justice, then you’re good to go,” Schaaf said.
However, Dixon notes that he is pleased with the legislation, even though it has become larger than he imagined it would be. Dixon said that the bill had plenty of provisions that were agreed on in a bipartisan way and that most people in the chamber had at least one provision they supported. One of the best examples of that cooperation are measures that would prohibit the shackling of pregnant mothers and juveniles championed by Sen. Wayne Wallingford, R-Cape Girardeau, and Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis.
“Everyone had the opportunity to make the bill better and I didn’t try to block any amendments,” he said. “I just let the will of the body prevail on each one.”
Despite its size, the bill is widely seen as one of the most significant in either chamber during the final two weeks of session in 2016. Dixon introduced the legislation to revise the criminal code in some small but impactful ways. The bill reclassifies felonies, including the creation of a Class E felony, and the maximum sentences for those felonies. The current maximum sentence for a Class C felony in Missouri is seven years. Dixon’s bill would bolster that to ten years.
Then, the current class C felonies become D felonies and current D felonies become E felonies.
Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, was also pleased that he got provisions onto the bill. One of them would make murder as an act of terrorism a first degree offense, and thus applicable for the death penalty as a sentence.
“The death penalty in Missouri has been reserved for the most heinous criminals,” Schaefer said. “I am pleased that my colleagues agreed that terrorists are deserving of this consideration.”
The bill also contains provisions regarding mandatory DNA collection from felony offenders, Sunshine law modifications for police camera recordings, anti-sex trafficking measures, the creation of the crime of illegal reentry, enhanced punishment for leaving the scene of an accident, classifies acts of terror as punishable by death as a form of first degree murder, a ban on two-way communications devices in prisons and jails, and many others. The full text of the bill can be found here.
However, Dixon did caveat that omnibus legislation could succeed “as long as there’s things that aren’t controversial get on there.”
Schaefer added such a provision. Democrats spoke against the bill for some time because that provision would institute a stand your ground law into statute, which Democrats oppose because they fear it could lead to a “shoot first, ask questions later” mentality among the populace.
Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City, said on the floor that he found it odd Christian Republicans would champion such a measure as Jesus Christ stated that one should “turn the other cheek.”
“You think if Jesus Christ was in an alley, he would pull a six-shooter out?” he said. “I don’t know how the conservative Christian right can think of Jesus as Yosemite Sam with two six shots at his sides ready to use force at the drop of the hat.”
As such, the bill lost most Democratic support, but it still passed 23-6. The emergency clause, however, was defeated 22-5 because it did not reach the two-thirds majority threshold.
Dixon will introduce the bill in the House Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee Wednesday afternoon.