Sen. Rob Schaaf filibusters PDMP legislation. May 12, 2016 TRAVIS ZIMPFER

Sen. Rob Schaaf: “I support Blue Alert”

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One of the top priorities for Missouri Governor Eric Greitens has been passing a Blue Alert bill. And with just over a day left in the legislative session, his goal has moved one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Missouri Senate on Thursday voted 32-0 to pass Sen. Mike Cunningham’s SB 34, which creates the crime of illegal reentry. Under the bill’s language, any illegal alien that has been removed in the past for committing a crime and returns to commit an offense of assault or certain other felony offenses under Missouri law would be punished with a Class C felony.

But the legislation also included 10 other amendments that had been tacked on to the bill in the House, the most notable of which being establishment of the Blue Alert system and new provisions added to the state’s legal expense fund.

The issue of Blue Alert has become one of contention in the past few weeks, all beginning with an attack ad issued by A New Missouri, saying that Sen. Rob Schaaf was blocking the Blue Alert bill. It put Schaaf’s personal cell number out across social media and on the internet, urging people to call the Senator from Buchanan County.

Not long after that, a report by the Springfield News-Leader revealed that similar attack ads had been prepared for other senators: Sen. Bob Dixon, R-Springfield; Sen. Jason Holsman, D-Kansas City; Sen. Doug Libla, R-Poplar Bluff; Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington; and Sen. Ryan Silvey, R-Kansas City.

 Those ads were never launched and allegedly did not include the senators’ personal cell phone numbers.

And on the Senate floor on Thursday, Schaaf took the opportunity to say – several times – that he supported Blue Alert, and would be voting in favor of the bill.

When Sen. Jamilah Nasheed asked Schaaf if he had supported Blue Alert before the attack ads began, he said he did.

And staying true to his word, the senator cast an “Aye” vote, as did 31 of his fellow senators, putting forward the legislation with a unanimous 32-0 final tally.

The House only needs to pass the legislation – as is – to gift wrap it and send it to the desk of the governor.

They must do it before 6 p.m. on Friday if the governor is to get his wish and sign it.

And if the House doesn’t sign off the what the Senate has sent their way, the House can still vote on the actual Blue Alert bill, HB 302. The senators took up the legislation Thursday evening, approving four amendments on the bill, and eventually adopting the legislation and emergency clause with a vote of 32-0.

It seems that, for now, Blue Alert – in whichever form they choose – lies in the hands of the House.

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.