Macks Creek law | St. Louis Public Radio

Macks Creek law

Members of Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment conduct a silent protest during a public hearing on municipal court reform on Nov. 12, 2015.
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Nearly two years ago, Michael Brown's death brought to light abusive municipal court practices in the St. Louis area. A new report released by auditor Nicole Galloway on Wednesday shows the problems exist statewide.

"We've seen repeated challenges that prevent Missourians from having the municipal courts they deserve," Galloway said in a statement accompanying the report. "Courts should operate efficiently, effectively and fairly, and these audits shine light on problems and make recommendations, so that work can begin toward regaining citizen trust."

Protesters outside St. Louis County headquarters on Feb. 2, 2015 call for reforms of the municipal court system.
File photo by Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated with comments from the Municipal Court Improvement Committee — The city of Jennings has agreed to make major changes to the way it operates its municipal court.

The changes are part of a proposed settlement to a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of 10 individuals who say they were held in the Jennings jail solely because they could not pay a traffic fine. Federal judge Carol E. Jackson must still formally accept the terms for them to take effect.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Dozens of bills passed by Missouri lawmakers this year remain unsigned as the deadline for taking action approaches.

They include the sole Ferguson-related bill passed during the 2015 legislative session.

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Kansas City, is strongly backing efforts to curb cities' ability to take in traffic fine revenue.
Provided by Cleaver's office

Back when he was living near Dallas, Texas, as a child, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and his family used to pile into his father’s Oldsmobile and, in their drives, they'd often go through a town called Saginaw.

The Kansas City Democrat recalls that when his father crossed over that city’s border, his mother would urge him to slow the car down – even though he wasn’t driving particularly fast.

traffic ticket
Chris Yarzab | Flickr

The 90 municipalities in St. Louis County are beginning to consider the impacts of new limits on their budgets that would be set by the passage Thursday of Senate Bill 5.

Gov. Jay Nixon is expected to sign the measure into law. The impact of its 23 pages won't be fully apparent for three years, but it's fairly clear already that things will look vastly different come Jan.1.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 6:14 p.m. May 7 with comments from Gov. Jay Nixon and House Speaker John Diehl - Missouri lawmakers have sent Gov. Jay Nixon the first bill of the 2015 legislative session that deals with the fallout from last year’s unrest in Ferguson.  The House passed Senate Bill 5 today, 134-25, after the Senate overwhelmingly approved it Wednesday night.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

After more than five hours of talks that stretched into the early morning hours, House and Senate negotiators have signed off on next year's $26 billion state budget.

Photo of police car
Jason Rojas | Flickr

A Missouri House committee has passed a revised version of a bill to further limit how much revenue from traffic fines cities and towns can use in their budgets.

Eight members of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus formed the town hall panel Saturday, April 18, 2015. The only female caucus member present for most of the meeting was Rep. Kayla May, who moderated.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Job opportunity and municipal reform took center stage Saturday during a town hall discussion held by the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus. About 35 people attended the two hour meeting at Greater St. Mark Church in north St. Louis County, many submitting written questions that the eight panelists took turns answering.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

John Diehl famously stated at the start of the 2015 legislative session that the Missouri House would not have a “Ferguson agenda.”

Yet on Wednesday, he unveiled a new proposal to pass one of the so-call agenda’s top priorities: reforming the way municipal courts treat low-income residents who get ticketed for speeding and other traffic violations.

Jeff Roberson | Associated Press

The Justice Department has neither the authority nor the staffing to expand its investigation of unconstitutional police and court practices from Ferguson to surrounding municipalities, legal experts say.

police car lights
Jason Rojas | Flickr

(Updated 5:50 p.m., Thurs., Feb. 12)

The Missouri Senate has passed legislation to reduce the amount of revenue from traffic fines cities and towns can use in their budgets from the current 30 percent.

Senate Bill 5 would allow municipalities in urban and suburban areas to keep only 10 percent of the revenue from speeding tickets and other fines, while rural towns would be allowed up to 20 percent.  It was sponsored by state Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale.

(via Flickr/davidsonscott15)

Legislation to cap the amount of revenue from traffic fines cities and towns in Missouri can include in their budgets is getting early attention in this year's regular session.

Under the current law, known as the Macks Creek law, local municipalities can receive up to 30 percent of their income from speeding tickets and other traffic citations.  That would drop to 10 percent if the proposed measure becomes law. 

Attorney General Chris Koster announced the lawsuit in St. Louis.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Update on March 24, 2015 at 4:30 p.m. with cities dropped from lawsuit:

Attorney General Chris Koster says he has voluntarily dismissed claims against eight municipalities he previously sued for allegedly violating the Mack's Creek law.  The dismissal came after those cities submitted or re-filed annual financial reports to the state auditor that detailed revenue derived from traffic fines and court costs.  The lawsuit against Hillsdale, Moline Acres and Normandy is still pending. 

Updated at 4:00 p.m. with comments from Koster, additional details.