Legislative Updates | Ed Emery for State Senate 31

Legislative Updates

Thank you, Veterans!

Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Recent | 0 comments

Thank you, Veterans!

“Greater love hath no man that this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Whether bearing arms, supplying the front lines or supporting and serving stateside, whether draftee or volunteer, each uniformed American signed a blank check to lay down their life for their friends if called upon.

The spouses of warriors, without rank or recognition, may not have served in the military but they served the military by securing the home and waiting without assurances. They could not join the fight, but they shared the cost and often bore it alone.

God granted our liberty, but it is the United States military that must repeatedly defend it against tyrants and terrorists. There will always be those who crave power more than freedom, so there must always be a few who are willing to lay down their lives for their friends.

Thank you, veterans and those still serving at home and abroad, for being among those few. May the God of creation bless you and our exceptional country.


Points of Light

Posted by on September 29, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

Points of Light

“Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”  Jesus Christ

President George H. W. Bush popularized the phrase “a thousand points of light” when speaking of organizations that work for a better America. I visited two such organizations in the past few weeks. Just last week (Sept. 25th), my wife and I attended the 25th anniversary celebration of Life Choices of Joplin. They also have a services location in Carthage and continue to grow and expand not just geographically but also in the demographics they serve. Their tag line is “choose to know,” and their most fundamental outreach is assisting young people facing a sexual health crisis to be fully informed in order to make wise decisions.

Life Choices continues to assess the sexual health issues of our day and address them with medically accurate and age-appropriate curriculums. They work with teenagers throughout Jasper County to encourage healthy discussion between parents and teens. Unimaginable peer pressure, plus the youthful delusion of indestructibility, push teens toward risky behaviors that have life-long consequences. Be encouraged: Life Choices is helping students to overcome destructive pressure by empowering them with a stronger sense of who they are and what enduring rewards await those who make wise choices.

The tireless, selfless staff of Life Choices is seeing unparalleled success as they approach daily challenges with life affirming values. None can deny that because of their 25 years of service to the community, there are thousands of children alive today who would not be. Additionally, there are countless families intact and functioning today that would not exist were it not for Life Choices. Life Choices is more than a “point of light,” it is more than a beacon; it truly “shines forth as the sun.”

Another point of light I discovered recently in Cass County is the Ray-Pec Community Alliance whose mission is “to promote and support healthy communities across Raymore and Peculiar.” They invited me to visit their site a few weeks ago during an open house for parents and the community. What an impressive beginning to a truly visionary mission! Their volunteers are skilled and enthusiastic; their physical facilities are top-notch and should be extremely inviting to youth who would like to build and cultivate genuine friendships in a safe and supervised environment.

The Ray-Pec Community Alliance was still inviting volunteers and donations when I visited, and I am sure they still are. You will be encouraged to go online and check out their website. You can find the schedule of events as well as a list of items they still need to “finish-out” the recreation and relaxation areas of their building. Our teens are continually bombarded with pressures to ignore moral absolutes and violate their God-given consciences. This group in Cass County refuses to take these lifestyle assaults lying down and are raising up a standard against it.

Two points of light: one celebrating 25 years, the other just stepping into the fray to ensure that young minds and bodies have an alternative option to the drugs, alcohol, and sexual deviancy of our day. If you agree that strong families and healthy communities are crucial to the future of our state, then I encourage you to somehow be involved in one or both of these heavenly oases. Don’t miss the opportunity to help; you can add to the brightness. We cannot neglect the future; it is where we are headed.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.


Priorities and Perspective

Posted by on September 17, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

Priorities and Perspective

“Put your money where your mouth is.” – This governor contrived for months to expand Medicaid and then cut dozens of budget items that would have had similar impacts.

Last Wednesday (Sept. 10) into early Thursday (Sept. 11) morning, the Missouri Senate and Missouri House each debated overriding legislation and budget line-items vetoed by the governor. By the end of the 2014 Veto Session, legislation had been overridden a record 57 times, many times with bipartisan support. Eight Senate bills, two House bills, and 47 budget line-item appropriation vetoes were successfully overridden.

It did not go unnoticed, and was openly discussed, that at the same time he was vetoing nearly 150 specific appropriations, some with no impact on general revenue and several that would provide expanded access to healthcare through programs such as ECHO (Expanding Access to Healthcare in Rural Areas), the governor had spent $550,000 just to fuel his new state-owned airplane that the auditor said was an unnecessary expenditure. It was reported that, just one month into the 2015 fiscal year, the governor’s office has spent approximately $146,000 on out-of-state travel. The appropriation line-item veto overrides presented a clear contrast of priorities between the Legislature and the governor.

The line-item overrides included:

  • Rape kits for children;
  • Defibrillators for State Water Patrol boats;
  • Alternatives to abortion services;
  • Teach for America; and
  • Funding for AP/Dual credit for low-income students.

It is likely the governor will ignore all 47 of the budget overrides and refuse to fund the items we overrode. There is little we can do to force him to fund items he refuses to fund unless we take him to court. The purest reading of his constitutional authority to exercise budget withholds is that they are authorized only if revenues fall short of budget demands, and they have not. We will watch to see how his office responds to our priorities.

The 10 legislative overrides included two pro-life bills, House Bill 1307 and HB 1132. House Bill 1307 changed the waiting period on abortions from 24 to 72 hours. The minority caucus was determined to stop the override of HB 1307 and filibustered. A previous question motion (rarely used) was required to stop the filibuster, and all but two majority party senators joined the PQ motion. The Senate then passed the bill on a party line vote. In winning the support of most of the caucus, one senator remarked that he would gladly PQ a debate to defend the life of his child, and he could do no less for someone else’s. Reason and international evidence both suggest that after contemplation some mothers will decide not to kill their unborn child. I am convinced that because of this legislation we will get to watch babies grow into adulthood, who would otherwise be killed and not be given even an unmarked grave.

Senate bills that were overridden included Senate Bills 523593656727731829841, and 866. Vetoed bills go immediately into effect once voted out of both legislative bodies, so all 10 of the overridden bills are now Missouri law.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.

Searching for Lynn

Posted by on July 30, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

Searching for Lynn

I am writing this Capitol Report in hopes of helping find Lynn Messer, a 52-year-old mother and grandmother who has been missing for two weeks.

I have worked in the historic Capitol building for 12 years now. First as a representative and now as your Missouri senator for the 31st District. Since my first days at the Capitol, I have had the honor and privilege to know Kerry Messer and members of his family. For 30 years, Kerry Messer has been a fixture here at the Capitol.  Kerry and his family have dedicated themselves to making Missouri a better place to live and work.  His reputation among the Capitol community is one of integrity and perseverance as a voice for Missouri families on a wide range of policy issues. He is a respected man, doing respectable work.

No matter how much a lawmaker agrees or disagrees with Kerry at times, his motives and passion are never in question.  Kerry loves the people of Missouri and he demonstrates that love through the way he works with us at the Capitol.

Kerry’s wife, Lynn Messer, has been his biggest support through these last 30 years.  His devotion to the work and ministry of his organization, Missouri Family Network, has only been possible through the sacrifices and support of Lynn, his wife of 34 years.  As a result, we at the Capitol have a deep appreciation for Lynn Messer.

So it is with a heavy heart that I am asking you to please pray for Kerry and his family over the disappearance of his “bride.”

Sometime during the night of July 7, prior to the morning of July 8, Lynn disappeared without a trace.  Kerry and the Ste. Genevieve County Sheriff’s Department have been conducting a massive search effort, but with no success to date.

Lynn did not take any personal belongings with her. She had recently injured her foot and the boot she had been ordered to wear was also found at the Messer home.

In the days since her disappearance, hundreds of volunteers and members of law enforcement have searched the Messer Farm in St. Genevieve as well as places that hold special memories for the Messer family. No one has given up hope.

Kerry has asked that you please visit the Facebook page, “Find Lynn Messer,” located at www.facebook.com/findlynnmesser, to review the details associated with Lynn’s disappearance and the search effort for her.  From that page, you can download a missing person flyer with Lynn’s photo and a description to share with others.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. We welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.



August Ballot Issues

Posted by on July 15, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

August Ballot Issues

First, my apologies for the long intermission between Capitol Reports, I hope to do better in the coming weeks. August 5 is the Missouri primary election, and there will be five issues for voters to decide. I support three of those issues and oppose two. The amendments are listed below, followed by brief descriptions of the reasons for my support or opposition.

Amendment 1 – Agriculture

  • Guarantees farmers and ranchers the right to engage in their livelihoods, produce food for others

Amendment 5 – Firearms

  • Establishes the right to keep and bear arms, ammunition and accessories

Amendment 7 – Taxes

  • Increases state sales and use taxes for 10 years to fund transportation projects

Amendment 8 – Lottery

  • Creates new lottery ticket with profits going toward veterans’ programs

Amendment 9 – Civil Rights

  • Protects electronic data from unreasonable searches and seizures

Amendment 1: I will vote YES.
Amendment 1 is designed to constitutionally protect all Missouri farmers, ranging from the person with six steers in the back yard to mega operations with thousands of acres. There are liberal groups who oppose Amendment 1 and are trying to confuse the Farming Rights amendment. A concern over foreign ownership of Missouri farmland is a red herring because foreign ownership of Missouri farm land is capped by law at 1 percent and currently stands at .29 percent. One of these liberal groups is the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), which employs a former Missouri lieutenant governor.  This is the same organization that nearly put the canine breeding industry out of business in Missouri with their Proposition B campaign. A few conservatives oppose Amendment 1 due to their concern about the possibility of inappropriate protections for GMO merchants. However, Senate legal staff has assured me that although Amendment 1 may affect the legal environment of GMO’s, it does not impair the courts in the case of lawsuits.

Amendment 5: I will vote YES.
This amendment affirms the duty of elected officials to protect your right to keep and bear arms. It extends the right to keep and bear arms to include ammunition and related accessories for such arms. Given the imperial actions being taken in Washington, D.C., such legislative action is needed. This amendment does not prevent the legislature from limiting the rights of certain felons and certain individuals adjudicated as having a mental disorder.

Amendment 7: I will vote NO.
No one can deny the bad timing of this multi-billion dollar tax increase on Missourians, even though a small cadre of state senators was successful in negotiating the tax down from $8 billion to $6 billion over 10 years. Our roads are in need of maintenance, but my opposition is because of the refusal of this legislature to advance reforms that would allow increased competition to benefit Missouri taxpayers. The same legislators who are willing to impose $6 billion of new taxes on Missourians stand in firm opposition to labor reforms, tort reforms, regulatory reforms, and judicial reforms that would benefit taxpayers and businesses. If a tax increase is necessary, it should be the last resort, not the first choice. When the goals of special interest groups conflict with what is good for the taxpayer, why must the taxpayer always lose?

Amendment 8: I will vote NO.
We don’t all agree on the significance of gambling or buying a lottery ticket. However, no one in business, law enforcement, the military, or banking would view gambling as a character asset. We already see billboards across the state inviting us to support education by buying lottery tickets; next it will be to support our veterans. Have we reached the point that we entrust the wellbeing of our veterans to dependency upon what has historically been considered a vice?

Amendment 9: I will vote YES.
Security of our persons and papers against unlawful search or seizure is recognized by our Constitution as an unalienable right. Amendment 9 simply clarifies that our digital-electronic “papers” enjoy the same protection. They will still be subject to lawful search, as with a warrant or court order, but not an unwarranted search.

I hope these views are helpful. More details and the statements from both advocates and opponents can be surveyed using the links in the table above.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. We welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.


Freedom is Worth the Fight

Posted by on July 4, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

Freedom is Worth the Fight

Someone recently remarked: Patriots have not suffered and died for a day on the calendar but for independence. On December 25th each year we don’t celebrate December 25th; we celebrate Christmas, the coming of the Messiah in a stable. You don’t celebrate a day on the calendar for your birthday; you celebrate your birthday on a day of the calendar. Today, as we celebrate, may we celebrate the birthday of America – the spirit, symbol, and confirmation of the power and compassion of a free people.

Liberty is more than a philosophy or an idea; it is a condition, whether personal or corporate. My personal liberty is a condition of the heart; it is the mind of Christ – a confidence in the God of creation and the eternal salvation He offers by the blood of His only begotten Son. Corporate liberty, on the other hand, is a political condition where the people are empowered above the king.

Writings about and by the Founding Fathers reveal they largely knew the personal liberty of a relationship with Jesus Christ. But their pledge to one another of their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor (reputations) was not for that which they had already attained but for that for which they longed – corporate liberty. Their profound pledge was the price they were willing to pay to secure the condition of liberty for a people: their families, neighbors, and posterity. This was to be a political liberty, the birth of a nation “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

Ideas and philosophies are harmless even to tyrants until they initiate a change in condition. The Declaration of Independence did that; it birthed a nation! A people who were totally dependent on their government (King George) made independence their goal and told the king to keep his ships and provisions and protections at home. For the cause and condition of liberty, they would fend for themselves. They demanded a change in their condition, and the tyrant answered back with war.

Today let’s celebrate the spirit, soul, and declaration of independence and not just a day on the calendar! Freedom is worth the fight, and independence is worth the price. Happy Independence Day, and God save the U.S.A.



Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments


“Let every student be plainly instructed, and earnestly pressed to consider well, the main end of his life studies is, to know God and Jesus Christ which is eternal life.” – Harvard University Original Mission Statement, 1636

During this legislative session, as seen with passing both the student transfer bill and the Common Core bill, education was a top priority for the General Assembly. As the graduation season is upon us, many students will be preparing to head to college this fall.

During the session, we heard a higher education bill, which included performance funding – meaning that starting in 2016,  a certain amount of state funding – based on performance – will be distributed, holding these schools accountable for the quality of education they provide. It is common for parents to be unaware of what their child is learning when they are away from home, but it is crucial that parents stay involved. In a recent report published by Phyllis Schlafly, she discusses the drastic shift on college campuses and the breakdown of traditional values among students. Schlafly makes some startling observations and passionate admonitions which are summarized below.

Before you send your child off to college, think for a moment about the quality of education you are getting for the $20,000-$50,000 a year. To get a glimpse into what your child will be learning, visit a university bookstore and browse through the required text books. Many of the history books give a one-sided perspective of the United States being a bully that is exploiting third-world nations and paints the Founders as racist slave owning elites who only declared their independence to preserve their own wealth and social status. Many text books describe big government as the only humane way in which a country can be ruled and claim that it is the duty of the government to provide for everyone, rather than protect their lives, liberty and property.

The problem is the way this information is being taught. If a student takes a history class in which they learn about Marxism, they may study and fulfill all of the requirements to pass without ever being challenged to think critically about the topic. For example, students learn about the ideas of Socialism and the basis on which it is built, but they seldom learn of the instances throughout history where this ideology has been tried and failed, from the pilgrims to Zimbabwe to the USSR. Schlafly’s research points out that at Columbia Teachers College, students learn that non-Socialist societies are the root cause of all violence.

Today on many campuses, students are given the opportunity to take a variety of classes including those on gender studies, many of which teach that the traditional roles of male and female are learned behaviors which can be changed if the person so chooses. In Schlafly’s report, she talks about a course at the University of Missouri-St. Louis that uses a textbook entitled Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions. She states that this textbook explains to students that heterosexuality only exists because of socially imposed stereotypes and homophobia, and has nothing to do with nature or morality. It teaches students that the oppression of minority groups is one of many ways for the majority to keep its special privileges. Frequently those expressing their own belief in traditional values are condemned as being ignorant or unaccepting. Even at the simplest levels, students are kept from expressing traditional ideas.

The outcry for “equality,” as opposed to exceptionalism on college campuses, has created a gross double standard. To teach traditional values or concepts is considered politically incorrect and students who want to live by these values find themselves persecuted. In Schlafly’s article, she describes a situation at Rollins College in Florida which recently ruled that Christian student clubs, who require student officers to be Christian, are in violation of the school’s “non-discrimination policy” and will not receive any university funds allotted to student organizations. Many often forget that most universities were founded as Christian learning institutions.  Harvard’s original motto was “Truth for Christ and the Church,” and Yale University was originally founded to train Christian ministers.  As you can see, today’s universities have exponentially strayed from this idea.

For many students, college can be a time in which their faith and values are tested. It is important as parents to help your student select a college carefully and to arm them with the tools they need to remain strong in their beliefs and values.  Education forms the future. We cannot leave the future of Missouri or this great nation in the hands of the amoral education elite. Parents must take charge, and that requires involvement-not just in K-12, but in every institution that either forms or conforms the minds of our children.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.


Politics of Impeachment

Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

Politics of Impeachment

“Little boldness is needed to assail the opinions and practices of notoriously wicked men; but to rebuke great and good men for their conduct, and to impeach their discernment, is the highest effort of moral courage.”

- William Lloyd Garrison

A prior Capitol Report described Senate Joint Resolution 34, which would move impeachment trials back to the Missouri Senate. They were moved from the Senate to the Supreme Court in 1945. This past week, the House Judiciary Committee chairman announced that his committee would not pursue what it deemed “serious” impeachment charges filed against the governor in three separate bills. Hearings were completed the previous week on House Resolution 380,House Resolution 476 and House Resolution 923, all constructed to hold the governor accountable for violating his oath of office and the rights of the people. I was unable to attend the hearings, but a member of my staff attended and her remarks are summarized below.

The first articles of impeachment that were heard were those sponsored by Rep. Nick Marshall’s House Resolution 380, dealing with the Executive Order 13-14 in which the governor unilaterally authorized same-sex couples to jointly file state tax returns as if they are married. Rep. Marshall’s basis for filing the resolution was that the governor had disregarded Missouri’s constitution and tax code. The charge was that he violated his duty by issuing his unconstitutional executive order.

Most members of the House Judiciary Committee are attorneys, so the line of questioning that followed was more aligned with a cross examination rather than a public hearing. The fact that Missouri attorneys are mandated members of the integrated bar may also have influenced the open hostility displayed. Some committee members suggested that this was simply a different interpretation of the law: Rep. Marshall’s and the governor’s. Rep. Marshall challenged the claim suggesting it was ludicrous to think that a governor, who had been attorney general for 16 years, could not correctly read Missouri’s statutes and constitution.

Rep. Mike Moon’s House Resolution 476 sought impeachment for neglect of duty – inexcusable delays in filling vacant assembly seats. Several seats have been left vacant due to resignations, appointments, etc., leaving an estimated 285,000 people without representation. That number has grown with the recent Public Service Commission appointment of Sen. Scott T. Rupp and the untimely death of Rep. Rory Ellinger. Some committee members showed their total misunderstanding of the purpose and process of impeachment by stating that claims of neglect were without legal merit because there is no clear definition of how long is too long.

The third articles of impeachment was filed by Rep. Rick Brattin and sought impeachment due to the governor’s failure to protect the privacy rights of 163,000 Missourians when he allowed their CCW data to be given (on multiple occasions) to the federal government.

Rep. Brattin charged that the governor’s neglect to hold members of his cabinet responsible constitutes an impeachable neglect of duty. Rep.  Brattin was met with another cross-examination by the members of The Missouri Bar who are on the committee. They wanted examples of the laws being broken, once again demonstrating their confusion on impeachment. Rep. Brattin stated again and again that in failing to hold someone accountable for these illegal acts constitutes an impeachable offense.

The first witness called, Mr. Ron Calzone, presented the committee with 760 witness forms. Only five witness forms opposed the impeachment articles, three offered information without taking a position, and 752 were in support of impeachment. Mr. Calzone asked that the committee think less like lawyers and more like legislators with a duty to protect the rights and power of the people of Missouri. He reminded the committee through the Missouri Preamble that their power is on loan from the people and that the question before them was not whether or not to impeach the governor; the question was whether impeachment should be brought to the floor for debate by the General Assembly.

Another witness was a constituent of former Rep. Jason Smith of the 120th District, whose seat has been vacant for over 10 months. The witness had already gone to extraordinary lengths to gain representation in the Legislature. She had been the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit that was filed against the governor earlier this year in Cole County. After numerous letters, petitions, and her lawsuit, the governor has now scheduled a special election on Aug. 5, 2014. By that date, the seat will have been vacant for 14 months. With this being an extremely vital year in the Legislature, it is hard to justify why so many Missourians went without a voice.

The witness testified that in response to her lawsuit, the courts claimed the issue was political, and refused to issue an opinion. The House committee, on the other hand, was now taking the position that the impeachment charges belonged in the courts and shouldn’t be considered in the Legislature. Where, she asked, was she to go? What remedy does she and other unrepresented Missourians have?

A Lawrence County Auxiliary volunteer testified that he and other volunteers were among those whose data was breached, prompting Rep. Brattin’s articles of impeachment. He personified that example of a breach for which the committee members had asked.  This 163,000 was no longer just a number but an individual whose privacy had been violated. This man and others had their data exposed and had no one to hold accountable.

The final witness, another constituent from the 120th District, posed several questions to the committee. He was from one of the unrepresented districts and asked the committee some tough questions. “How can it not bother you that we don’t have representation? How can you say that this is not an impeachable offense?”

The House committee may be correct that these articles lack legal merit. That is because they are articles of impeachment, not criminal charges. They are part of the political process of impeachment. Their purpose is to hold the governor accountable for violating his constitutional duties, not necessarily the law. Impeachment cannot imprison or fine, only remove from office. The governor’s constitutional responsibility to the people of Missouri is not a matter for the courts to decide! The committee’s inability to look at the issue as elected officials, not as members of Missouri’s integrated bar was a disservice to thousands of Missourians pleading for the Legislature’s intercession. The official response issued last week is an indictment of those elected officials who refuse to take seriously their duty to their oath office by holding this governor to his.

Click here to read an article from the Kansas City Star about the decision not to pursue impeachment.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.


Park the Plane

Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

Park the Plane

Since the Senate passed Senate Bill 509, the biggest story in state politics has been the governor’s almost immediate decision and announcement to veto the legislation just as he did with last year’s tax cut bill. However, this year’s legislation is much different from last year’s bill, but his reasons for a possible veto are largely the same.

He has made consistently false statements in the media and to countless citizens of this great state. It is unprofessional and deceptive to prey on the public when they’ve received limited information. And as a former attorney general, it is unlikely that the governor is confused about either the legislative intent or the language in Senate Bill 509.

The governor has said, among other things, that this legislation will eliminate income taxes for some Missourians who fall within certain tax brackets. Senate Bill 509 does not do this. The governor’s interpretation of this law is wrong and it draws me to question if he is sincere in his concerns or if this is just politics.

Former Missouri Supreme Court Justice Judge Ray Price was asked for an opinion on the governor’s claims, and he found them baseless. Nevertheless, the governor insists on flying around the state in his newest airplane purchased without legislative approval or oversight and misinforming the public.

With only two weeks of this legislative session left, there is a glaring void of input from the governor’s office on important issues like the massive overhaul to the criminal code, Common Core, student transfers out of failing school districts, and not to mention balancing the budget. He is also facing three impeachment charges in the House that started as public hearings last week. These items surely demand the attention of the highest office holder in our state.

At the same time, the governor is railing against the approximately $620 million to stay in taxpayers’ pockets rather than be redistributed to non-taxpayers, he wants the legislation to raise the sales taxes for both givers and takers by $700-$800 million to pay for the roads that cannot be repaired with a proposed $26 billion state budget.

It may be time to give politics a rest and focus on state policies that limit government and empower productive citizens; the fight for political power should be abandoned in favor of good public policy. “We the people” need to demand a government that protects individuals’ opportunity and liberty. We still have the ballot box, as we can protect its integrity and employ its power. Let us insist that the governor park the plane and fulfill his oath of office at the ground level.

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.


Bring Missouri’s Criminal Code to the 21st Century

Posted by on April 21, 2014 in Capitol Reports, Recent | 0 comments

Bring Missouri’s Criminal Code to the 21st Century

Last week the Missouri Senate perfected and passed SB 491, a major update of Missouri’s criminal code. Representative Chris Kelly, with whom I served in the Missouri House, has written an excellent account of the process and product encompassing SB 491 and HB 1371(the House version of SB 491).

The remarks that follow are either quotes from Rep. Kelly’s letter or are summarized from them. Rep. Kelly’s comments are needed when evaluating the process by which SB 491 and HB 1371 were developed and in assessing the content of the bills. The Missouri Bar has long advocated for a revision to our current criminal code, which hasn’t seen a major revision in nearly 30 years.

The revision process began when The Missouri Bar appointed a committee to consider and recommend improvements to the current criminal code. The committee studied the issue for almost five years and sent it to the bar’s board of directors, which approved it. At that point, the General Assembly was brought into the process to enact the work as a complete revision to the code. Subsequently, in 2012, Chairman Stanley Cox and Senator Minority Leader Jolie Justus, who are both attorneys, introduced the bill in both the House and the Senate. Understanding the extensiveness of the bills, they gave them time to settle with the General Assembly and did not pursue passage the first year the changes were introduced.

In 2013, the bills were reintroduced; the House broke the bill up into three parts divided among three subcommittees for reviews and the Senate embarked on a similar course of thorough review. As a ranking member on the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Kelly participated in the development of this legislation and has stated that he has never seen a bill so meticulously vetted, first by the bar over a five-year period and then by both the House and the Senate over three years. Both chairmen have avoided making substantive changes in criminal law, recognizing that the inclusion of substantive changes would greatly increase the possibility of unintended error.

Even with all of this review, no process guarantees absolute freedom from error. Therefore a substantial post passage review procedure was also constructed. First, the governor will conduct his normal due diligence and exercise his right to veto, should he find error. After it has been signed, the Supreme Court has agreed to send the bill to its Standing Committee on Criminal Procedure for review, allowing the Legislature the chance to make changes during veto session.

Finally, the Senate bill now contains an effective date of Jan. 1, 2017, and House Majority Leader John Diehl has suggested that the General Assembly could also call themselves into special session during veto session for the purpose of making any needed corrections.

In summary, after we pass the bill, the governor will review it, the court committee will study it, and the Legislature will have at least four chances to fix any errors that should emerge.

Rep. Kelly has said that he has seen many long and complex bills but has never seen one with this degree of initial vetting and post passage review. The General Assembly and The Missouri Bar and bench have done all that is reasonably possible to provide comfort to legislators and the governor.

All seem to agree that the criminal code is significantly outdated and unwieldy; reform is long overdue. One reason to pass a bill this session is because of the four people who know the most about the code revision-Chairman Cox, Chairman Dixon, Senate Minority Leader Justus and Rep. Kelly, three will not be returning. If we do not pass it this year, it almost certainly will not happen in the foreseeable future regardless of the need for reform.

Reasonable caution by the governor and legislators is prudent. The governor has offered a threat of a veto due to the large size of the bill. My opinion, which is shared by many senators, is the process as described above is as secure a process as can ever be expected. Any incremental improvements could easily be made in subsequent legislative sessions and do not provide a rational reason for a veto.

The Senate bill is currently in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing and the House bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing.  It is my hope that we will pass and the governor will sign either SB 491 or HB 1317 and bring Missouri’s criminal code chapters into the 21st Century.


Paid for by Citizens for Ed Emery - Rex Rector, Treasurer