A day after Missouri Gov. Mike Parson amended his agenda for a special session focused on attacking violent crime, Republican leaders in the House split the one bill they were considering into several pieces of legislation.
What that means for the special session is that it will take longer.
Parson on Monday expanded the special session by adding a proposal for the state's attorney general to be able to take on murder cases yet to be prosecuted by the St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office.
That came in addition to his earlier agenda:
- Eliminate and prohibit the requirement for St. Louis law enforcement officers to have to live in the city, though an officer would still be required to live within an hour's response time of the city.
- Require courts to determine if a juvenile should be tried as an adult for unlawful use of a weapon and armed criminal action charges.
- Allow certain statements by witnesses to be admissible in court that would otherwise not be allowed under current law.
- Create a Pre-trial Witness Protection Fund.
- Criminalize knowingly encouraging, aiding or causing a child younger than 17 years old to engage in a weapons offense.
- Increase the penalty for a person who knowingly sells or delivers a firearm to a child without the consent of the child's parent or guardian.
Those measures have been contained in SB 1, which had been passed by the Senate, and had been heard Monday afternoon by the House Judiciary committee.
However, while the committee was in recess between testimony for and against the bill and a likely vote on whether to move the legislation forward, Parson held a news conference to announce his addition of the St. Louis attorney's office proposal.
Speaker of the House Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield; Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann, R-St. Charles; and Majority Floor Leader Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, said in a joint statement Tuesday afternoon: "In an effort to protect the integrity of the lawmaking process, and to ensure these important issues are thoroughly vetted, we intend to simplify the process with single-subject bills so we can focus on the merits of each bill individually to produce legislation that makes our streets and neighborhoods safer.
"Given the fact the governor expanded the call as one of our committees was considering the bill he originally proposed, we think it's important to take a step back and give additional thought and attention to each part of the plan. This will provide a more deliberative process that will allow us to craft the kind of policy that will better protect Missourians from the scourge of violent crime."
Parson's office did not immediately return request for comment Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Vescovo's office released a revised, tentative schedule for special session going forward. The House had originally been scheduled to convene today, but that was pushed back to Aug. 24.
Hearings on SB 1 that had been scheduled for today and Thursday were also canceled, and none had yet been rescheduled as of approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday.
The Senate had been scheduled to convene again at noon Thursday, and as of approximately 5 p.m. Tuesday, that was still the schedule shown on the Senate website.