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Parson ‘Disappointed’ Legislature Extends Special Session

Ben Peters
Missouri House Communications
Missouri's House Judiciary Committee listens to testimony on the violent crime package on Monday. As lawmakers wrapped up the hearing, Gov. Mike Parson expanded the special legislative session scope to include concurrent jurisdiction.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson said Thursday he was “disappointed” that lawmakers extended the special legislative session by at least two weeks, citing the need for more time to consider the governor’s proposals.

“The reality of it is the homicide rates are climbing and every day we’re delaying, more people are losing their lives,” Parson told reporters during his visit to the Missouri State Fair.

The Missouri House was expected to wrap up this week but decided on Wednesday to break up Parson’s tough-on-crime legislation into single-subject bills.

This came just one day after the governor asked the Legislature to allow the attorney general’s office to prosecute murder cases in St. Louis, also known as concurrent jurisdiction.

“Given the fact the governor expanded the call as one of our committees was considering the bill he originally proposed, we think it’s important to take a step back and give additional thought and attention to each part of the plan,” House leadership said in a statement. “This will provide a more deliberative process that will allow us to craft the kind of policy that will better protect Missourians from the scourge of violent crime.”

Parson received swift criticism from Democrats in the Legislature, as well as from St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner. The association representing the state’s prosecutors also came out against the proposal. Though its statement did not mention Parson or Gardner specifically, the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys said concurrent jurisdiction would “undermine the independence and autonomy of locally elected prosecutors.”

“The best control is local control,” the statement read. “Vesting the Attorney General with new original or concurrent jurisdiction erodes the ability of local voters to decide who will seek justice on their behalf should they be victimized by crime.”

The original proposal, SB1, passed by the Senate last week 27-3 included provisions that would remove residency requirements for St. Louis police officers, allow juveniles as young as 14 to be tried as adults in some cases and create a witness protection fund.

The House is set to resume the session on Aug. 24.

Jaclyn is the Jefferson City statehouse reporter for St. Louis Public Radio.

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