The Missouri House has again voted to renounce the 1852 decision by the Missouri Supreme Court that denied Scott and his family their freedom.
Scott had argued that he, his wife, and his two children were free because they had lived in the state of Illinois, where slavery was not legal. The Missouri Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling and said they were still slaves. The case preceded another suit in which the U.S. Supreme Court also found against Scott and his family.
The Missouri House has given initial approval to five bills related to crime issues in Missouri. The bills were filed in a special session of the legislature called by Governor Mike Parson (R).
Republicans say the legislation will help address violent crime in a year when Kansas City is on pace to set a new record for the annual number of homicides, and St. Louis is in the midst of a wave of murders and other violence. Democrats decried the legislation as accomplishing nothing and said the special session was called only for political reasons.
House Bill 66 would create a fund to pay for law enforcement agencies to protect witnesses or potential witnesses and their immediate families during an investigation or ahead of a trial.
Merideth said he would still support the bill, but also expressed concern that the offer of state money to pay for a potential witness’ room and board could be used to incent false testimony and lead to wrongful convictions.
The House voted 147-3 to send HB 66 to the Senate.
House Bill 11 would increase the penalty for endangering the welfare of a child from a misdemeanor to a first-degree felony. Bill sponsor Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) said criminals are taking advantage of juveniles by giving them guns and encouraging them to participate in violent crime.
House Bill 16, also sponsored by Schroer, would define the unlawful transfer of a weapon to a minor as the lending or sale of a firearm to a minor for the purpose of interfering with or avoiding an arrest or investigation. It would change current law to allow such transfers to be a felony even if done with parental permission.
The House also approved 133-11House Bill 2, sponsored by Representative Barry Hovis (R-Whitewater), which aims to clarify current law on the admissibility of witness statements when a witness has been tampered with or intimidated. If a court finds a defendant tried to keep a witness from testifying and the witness failed to appear, an otherwise inadmissible statement from that witness could be allowed into evidence.
All of these except for HB 16 were passed with a clause that would make them effective immediately upon being signed by the governor.