With one week remaining before the Legislature's annual spring break, I am pleased with the progress made by both the House and the Senate. This week, the Senate sent almost 20 bills to the House for consideration. Volume is certainly not the measure of legislative success, but sending this many good bills to the House is an important step in the process. Just as the Senate continues to send bills to the house for consideration, the Senate calendar contains an increasing number of House bills. In the coming weeks, bills from the opposite chamber will dominate discussions on both sides of the building. This transition occurs every year and is a reflection of the legislative process.
SB793, sponsored by Sen. Wayne Wallingford, was one of the numerous bills overwhelmingly approved by the Senate and sent to the House on Thursday. Also referred to as the "Raise the Age" bill, SB793 addresses Missouri's current statutes relating to prosecuting juvenile offenders as adults. When initial discussions began on this bill several years ago, I was concerned it was being soft on crime. However, thanks to the leadership of Wallingford and education on the topic, my initial concerns have proven unfounded. In reality, Missouri is one of just five states that mandates 17-year-olds be tried as adults. SB793 would change Missouri's statutes so 17-year-olds will be tried in juvenile courts unless they are certified as adults. This change is significant and based upon an accumulation of data which indicates trying 17-year-olds in the juvenile system allows them a far better chance at rehabilitation and greatly reduces recidivism.
SB881, sponsored by Sen. Bill Eigel, passed with little, if any, fan-fare or media coverage. This legislation is very refined in focus. In fact, and as best as could be determined at the time it was passed, one of the two sections of the bill will affect only two people in the state of Missouri. Ordinarily, a bill of such limited focus would be fodder for criticism and cries of partisan politics of the worst sort. In reality, SB881 allows Missouri residents who have one set of disabled veteran license plates to purchase additional sets for other vehicles that they may own. Additionally, Missouri residents who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism in battle above and beyond the call of duty will be eligible to receive Congressional Medal of Honor license plates free of charge.
While I am persuaded the two known Congressional Medal of Honor recipients residing in Missouri deserve far more than free license plates, and far more than a brand new Ford truck they might put them on, this change is a right and long-overdue recognition of their sacrifice and gallantry.
In a day and time when we seem almost desperate for heroes and individuals worthy of some type of reverence, those who have received the Congressional Medal of Honor are worthy of contemplation. If nothing else, reading a few Medal of Honor citations requires us to at least contemplate the relative safety and comfort in which we live.
I encourage you to visit our blog — mosenatesidebar.wordpress.com/. Here you will be able to find more information about the bills in progress as well as watch videos and read some news.
My purpose and my intent is to serve the constituents of the 6th Senatorial District. If you are in the Capitol during the coming weeks and months, please stop by YOUR OFFICE in Room 321.
State Sen. Mike Kehoe, R-Jefferson City, represents the 6th Senate District. He shares his perspective each Monday during the session and occasionally during the interim.