JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — One of the largest pieces of legislation in recent history, the re-write of Missouri’s criminal code, is one step closer to arriving on the desk of Gov. Jay Nixon, who has expressed trepidation in signing the sweeping reorganizational bill into law.
The House approved their version of the senate language, which provides for massive overhauling of the code. While the bill makes virtually no changes to the punishments associated with various offenses, it streamlines a code that has become complex, duplicative, and muddled, supporters say.
“While this reorganizes and reorders our code, there are also some sensible changes to how criminal law will be enforced in the future,” said the bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Stanely Cox, R-Sedalia. “This bill clearly increases punishments with child sex offenders and brings it more in line with how we as a society feel those people should be punished. Repeat violent offenders are, in fact, more likely under this bill to be subject to lengthier prison sentences.”
Cox has been one of a handful of lawmakers crafting the code rewrite for more than 5 years. House Majority Leader John Diehl asked for the members of the House to briefly recognize Cox’s work on the bill.
The House and Senate will likely enter into a conference committee next week to finalize some differences in the two bills before sending a final product to Nixon. After originally expressing concerns about the sheer size of the bill, lawmakers in the senate cut nearly 400 pages from the document. Nixon has since not commented on whether or not he will sign the bill.
The bill passed the House with 140 votes, and the Senate gave it final approval with only 2 votes against it. Senate Pro Tem Tom Dempsey was not present on Thursday to sign the bill, but his signature, along with House Speaker Tim Jones’ would send it to Nixon’s desk.