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Veterans’ treatment court fees waived under bipartisan criminal justice package 

  

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Court fees can be waived for honorably discharged veterans under a proposal included in this year’s bipartisan law enforcement and criminal justice bill. 

Originally filed as a standalone bill by Rep. Marlon Anderson, the language suspends veteran’s treatment court costs for veterans of any branch who received an honorable discharge. The bill was inspired by Anderson’s time as a public defender and work with veterans dealing with combat-related stress and difficulty adjusting to life back home. Anderson said the waiver would allow veterans to access help for mental illness and addiction through problem-solving courts designed for those situations. 

“This is a simple but important step that can better ensure our veterans have access to the assistance and treatment that can help them overcome the trauma that has caused their lives to get off track,” he said. “I want to thank all of my colleagues for supporting this important measure that can and will improve the quality of life for many of our heroes who are now struggling at home.” 

Gov. Parson and Rep. Marlon
Gov. Mike Parson signed a bill containing Rep. Marlon Anderson’s language waiving veteran’s treatment court costs on July 13, 2021. (PROVIDED)

The special courts were created by a 2019 bill, allowing prosecutors to divert criminal cases for veterans and active service members to a treatment program. Each Missouri circuit court is required to have a veteran’s treatment court. 

Anderson’s language was attached to SBs 53 and 60, a sweeping bipartisan effort focused on law enforcement and criminal justice reform that alters residency requirements for Kansas City police officers, allows courts to issue lifetime orders of protection, creates a stress management program for law enforcement, and bans the use of chokeholds by police, a measure Anderson said was “long overdue.”

Gov. Mike Parson signed the bill Wednesday. 

Another piece of legislation signed this week also focused on service members and their families. Sen. Bill White’s SB 120 allows school districts that aid military-connected children designation as a Purple Star Campus, designates November as “Military Family Month,” and classifies Missouri National Guard members as state employees, allowing them to use state-owned vehicles rather than their own when deployed across the state.