House panel adopts Senate's document scanning measure

A Missouri House committee adopted a Senate measure Monday that would stop the state Revenue Department from scanning driving applicants’ personal documents, but balked at the Senate’s plan to remove the agency from the concealed weapons permitting process.

Earlier this month, the Senate passed the bill that would prevent documents, such as birth certificates and concealed weapons permits, from being scanned into a state computer system. But its version also would have county sheriffs issue and print concealed weapons permits.

Missouri sheriffs already have the responsibility of receiving concealed-carry applications, reviewing applicants’ backgrounds and issuing paper permits. But under current law, recipients take the paper permits to a local licensing office overseen by the Department of Revenue to receive a photo ID card noting their concealed-carry status.

After learning earlier this month that the Revenue Department had compiled a list of Missouri permit holders to share with a federal agent in the Social Security Administration, the Senate wanted to remove them from the concealed weapons process. The House panel, however, wanted to separate that provision from the document-scanning one.

“We weren’t quite ready for that to be included in the bill ... these are two separate issues and (the House) bill focuses on the department scanning documents,” committee member Rep. Todd Richardson, R-Poplar Bluff, said.

Richardson is handling the legislation and said he has concerns about when sheriffs would begin to issue the permits and what information should be on those licenses.

The Senate’s plan would allow the sheriffs to begin issuing the permits in August. It also would require the permit to detail the holder’s name, address, birthday, gender, height, weight, eye color, hair color and signature.

If the full House adopts the committee’s version, the measure will go back to the Senate where it can either accept the change or ask for a conference to work out differences.

The Republican-led Legislature is moving to prevent the Revenue Department from scanning documents after new licensing procedures were adopted in December that required clerks to scan applicants’ documents when renewing or applying for their drivers’ license. Republicans criticized the new protocols, saying they infringe of privacy rights. The Revenue Department has said it enhances security and prevents fraud.

Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon announced in early April that the Revenue Department would stop scanning physical copies of concealed weapons permits, but the department still possesses the name of every permit holder because it is responsible for printing the licenses. This has caused Republicans to push for legislation giving the authority to print weapons permits to county sheriffs.

The Missouri Sheriff’s Association has indicated that they would take over printing the permits if the Legislature provides adequate funding. The Senate’s budget plan includes $2 million to a sheriffs’ task force to fund grants to issue the licenses.

Nixon stopped short of barring the department from scanning other documents, such as birth certificates, despite calls from Republicans. Richardson said he understands the security concerns but doesn’t think it justifies the scans, which he called an “invasion of privacy.” But an opponent of the measure said Missouri needs to keep up with other states.

“Every person who has a nefarious reason to change their identity will come to Missouri because it will be easier to get a state-issued driver’s license,” said Richard McIntosh, a lobbyist representing MorphoTrust USA, Missouri’s contracted vendor for printing drivers’ licenses.


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