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Protecting Critical Infrastructure

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power lines

On Feb. 27, a Senate committee heard a bill to strengthen penalties for tampering with critical infrastructure facilities.

“This bill would protect both under-construction and operational facilities in the state of Missouri…electrical power generators, various natural gas stations and fiber optic lines, pipelines, storage related to water facilities, things like that,” said Sen. Lincoln Hough, the bill’s sponsor.

Senate Bill 293 would make willfully trespassing on those facilities a Class B misdemeanor, make trespassing with intent to damage a Class A misdemeanor and make willfully causing damage a Class C felony. If an organization is found to be a conspirator in the crime, it would be fined ten times the amount of the individual perpetrator’s fine.

Missouri Chamber Director of Legislative Affairs Kara Corches testified in support of the bill.

“Deterring and punishing those who seek to destroy or tamper with our critical infrastructure facilities is a step in the right direction to prevent disruptions in the services and comforts that we enjoy in our modern economy today,” said Corches.

While Missouri has not yet faced a severe critical infrastructure attack, she said, an increasing number of incidents in other states have underscored the need for this legislation.

One such example was in California, where a sniper attack on an electrical substation closed that facility down for a month. Another example was in Virginia, where a gas pipeline construction site was the target of arson that caused $500,000 of damages.

Taking proactive measures to discourage similar attacks in Missouri will shore up the facilities that businesses, hospitals, schools and homes rely on daily, Corches said.

The bill now awaits a vote by the committee.

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