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Opinion: Defending the police

  

During the second week of the 2022 legislative session, my colleagues and I in the Missouri Senate began presenting bills in committee and listening to input from citizens and interested parties. The Judiciary Committee held its first hearing, and I presented my legislation to stop efforts to defund the Kansas City Police Department. Last May, the city council attempted to strip $42 million dollars from the KCPD’s budget. The courts eventually blocked the maneuver, but it was clear the city council would try again. It is inconceivable to me that the city would do this at a time when we’re seeing record levels of crime in Kansas City.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer

Instead of defunding the police, my SB 678 ensures the Kansas City Police Department receives the level of funding it needs to keep our community safe. The bill increases the minimum funding threshold for the KCPD to 25 percent of general revenue from 20 percent to better reflect the historical funding needs of the department and avoid future unexpected and drastic cuts like those attempted by the city council last May. The funding threshold for KCPD has been set by state statute at 20 percent of the city’s general revenue since the 1930s. In recent years, the city council has funded the KCPD at between 24 and 26 percent of general revenue, but last spring we saw unfortunate gamesmanship by the city council to divert $42 million from the police department budget. My bill also clarifies what constitutes general revenue.

As committee chairman, I intend to ask my colleagues on the Judiciary Committee this week to pass this KCPD funding measure out of committee so the full Senate can debate it as soon as possible.

Also this week, the Gubernatorial Appointments Committee met to begin clearing the backlog of interim nominees by the governor to the state’s various boards and commissions. I was proud to have two of my constituents appear before the committee and see their nominations confirmed by the full Senate. Congratulations to my constituents Jan Zimmerman and Harry Roberts for their appointments to the Missouri Gaming Commission and the Office of Missouri Military Advocate.

Finally, I was excited to see former Sen. Wayne Wallingford confirmed as Missouri’s new director of the Department of Revenue. Wayne is not from my district, but I served with him in the Senate and considered him a mentor and friend. He is a person of great integrity, and I can think of nobody better to lead the department and to protect taxpayers. Congratulations to Wayne and all the Missourians who stepped forward to serve their state.

In the coming weeks, I will be presenting legislation on election integrity, property tax protections, public safety, and more. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to work hard in Jefferson City to make sure your tax dollars are well spent. As always, my office is ready to assist you. Please let us know if we can be of service.

It is my great honor to represent the citizens of Platte and Buchanan counties in the Missouri Senate. Please contact my office at (573) 751-2183, or visit www.senate.mo.gov/mem34.