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Williams on police reform bill: ‘We’re proud of the legislation’


A bipartisan police reform bill headlined the final week of session, with Sen. Brian Williams working across the aisle to progress language reflecting last year’s civil unrest over the murder of George Floyd. 

SBs 53 and 60 bans chokeholds and broadens the residency requirement for Kansas City police officers to within 60 miles of the nearest city limit. The bill also contains a myriad of other critical provisions, including opening certain eligibility for expungement, providing free feminine hygiene products to inmates, and raising sheriffs’ salaries. A bipartisan effort from Williams and Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, it crossed the finish line the final week of session

“George Floyd could have easily been me, and that was my primary focus on why I decided to pursue police reform and probably one of the most difficult pieces of legislation to get through a supermajority legislature,” Williams said. “We’re proud of the legislation and we’re glad we got it done.”  

Williams joined Sunday’s episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” to discuss the effort to usher the bill through the legislature and session grinding to a halt in the upper chamber. Williams said the fight over the state’s federal reimbursement allowance (FRA) renewal would continue and praised Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo’s move to adjourn early. 

“We’re very lucky to have a leader in John Rizzo. He’s a great floor leader, and on top of that, I think that he addressed some things that were really important,” Williams said. “I’ve always believed that senators should be principled; they should maintain a high level of integrity, and he has been able to do that. He addressed concerns around things that may not have been done the right way. In the Senate, it’s important to listen.”

Williams also addressed a possible run for the U.S. Senate, saying he hadn’t had a chance to focus on the next election cycle. However, he said it was “imperative that we as Democrats not sit on the sideline.” 

End of session

State Reps. Rasheen Aldridge and Jo Doll, David Barklage of the Barklage Company, and Joe Patterson of the St. Louis County Police Association joined this week’s panel to discuss the end of session. On the House side, Aldridge praised Minority Floor Leader Crystal Quade’s leadership in pushing legislative priorities across the finish line as the session drew to a close. 

“I think if you look at the passage of the PDMP or you look at the passage of the gas tax, it took House Dems to help get that past the finish line,” he said. “She’s a phenomenal leader — I’m glad to serve under her. She was able to see that their boat is not fully crafted. We need to take our opportunity and show that we’re forced to be reckoned with.”

The panel also discussed the U.S. Senate race. St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey, who gained notoriety last year for brandishing guns at Black Lives Matter protesters, officially threw his hat in the ring last week. Barklage said the newcomer could prove a challenge for former Gov. Eric Greitens.

“This guy is Greitens’ worst nightmare,” Barklage said. “Greitens sat on a stage filled with a Gatling gun. This guy actually picked up a weapon when he thought his house was being done. You got real versus fake in that space — the real wins every time.”

Watch the full episode of “This Week in Missouri Politics” below, or listen to the podcast version here.