Missouri Gov. Mike Parson held a ceremonial signing for Missouri House Bill No. 66 Tuesday morning. The bill is designed to provide witnesses with protection.
While Parson is including this in his plan to attack violent crime, some state representatives have expressed concern about the effectiveness of the bill as funding has not yet been approved.
State Rep. Peter Meredith, D-St. Louis, released a statement suggesting that the bill is not going to help reduce crime and it was a photo op for Parson.
Sen. Dan Hegemann, R-Cosby, is the Senate appropriations chair and he said funding will be established for the bill.
“We’re dedicated to putting some funding to this to help to address violent crimes in St. Louis, Kansas City and all around the state of Missouri, so I think that we will find the money to put into it,” Hegeman said.
Hegeman said the bill will be funded by a combination of general revenue fund and the victim crimes fund.
“This gives an opportunity to provide some protection for those folks in the community that want to come forth and testifying against people that have committed violent crime, and I think it’s something that we should be supportive of, and encourage it,” Hegeman said.
State Rep. Sheila Solon, R-St. Joseph, said she believes the funding will be decided in a special session in October, something Hegeman also agreed with.
“My understanding is that the governor is going to call us back in special session the beginning of October, and I think we’re probably going to be working on a supplemental budget, regarding federal funding in the COVID pandemic, and the witness protection fund, which is something we really need to do,” Solon said.
Solon said the witness protection bill is a step in the right direction in battling rising violent crime in the state as well as in St. Joseph.
“We need to get the violent criminals off the street, and this is one way that we can do that we need to protect witnesses, give them extra security, put them up in a hotel, so they can testify against these violent criminals, get them off the streets and keep our citizens safe,” Solon said.