January 27, 2023 2 min read

Missouri Chamber supports crime bill in Missouri House

In a recent survey of businesses leaders commissioned by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry, many said that crime is an economic issue that must be addressed.

With that in mind, the Missouri Chamber is supporting a crime bill sponsored by Rep. Lane Roberts (R-Joplin). During a recent hearing on HB 301 in the House Crime Prevention and Public Safety Committee, which Roberts chairs, the representative talked about the different parts of the bill. 

This bill has multiple provisions to address the multi-faceted and complex issue of rising crime. One provision allows the Governor to appoint a special prosecutor in certain regions with a designated high rate of homicides to initiate and prosecute violent offenses. 

Requiring more prosecutorial transparency and accountability was one of the recommendations in a report issued by the Missouri Chamber during the summer.  Safer Missouri, Stronger Missouri highlighted the critical role that prosecutors play in controlling crime.

Missouri Chamber Vice President of Governmental Affairs Kara Corches cited some of the statistics of that report during the committee hearing, stating how negative national attention on our rising crime rate is stalling economic growth.

“A recent poll we commissioned of about 600 CEOs and business leaders across the state really rang the alarm bells for us,” Corches said. “In this poll we found that two-thirds of businesses believe that our rising crime rate is impacting the state’s economic competitiveness. Even more concerning, 60% of business leaders said public safety and crime is a growing concern with almost 25% feeling that crime and public safety is a top concern.”

Rep. Roberts told the committee that crime is a statewide issue.

“Someone asked me, ‘Why are you, an outsider, trying to determine what happens in the city of St. Louis?’ And I will tell you this – I am not an outsider, I am a Missourian. There are roughly 200 Missourians a year dying in St. Louis. I don’t have to live in St. Louis to care about that,” Roberts said.

“This is a rural issue, this is an urban issue and this is a suburban issue,” Corches said. “We hear from businesses from St. Louis, Kansas City, Branson, Waynesville and Versailles. Every business and community in this state is impacted by crime.”

Other provisions in the bill include:

– Establishing universal factors for setting bail

– Establishing minimum prison terms for all classes of felony for offenders with prior felony convictions

– Establishing a law enforcement training tuition reimbursement program to help increase public safety staffing

– Requiring the Dept. of Corrections to provide birth certificates and a government-issued ID upon an offenders release to help them gain employment

“I know a lot of people think it all comes down to politics, but I frankly don’t care,” Roberts said. “I worked for a Democratic governor as Department of Public Safety Director, and it was successful because he and I both agreed that public safety and politics should be separate.” 

 For more information, contact Corches at kcorches@mochamber.com or 573-634-3511.

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