4/4/2007Missouri: Bill Would Limit Speed Traps
Missouri legislation to cut speed trap profits clears hurdles in the state House of Representatives.
A bill to increase the limitations on Missouri speed trap towns has cleared a series of hurdles in preparation for consideration by the full state House of Representatives. By a 9-2 vote last month, the Judiciary Committee approved a measure introduced by Representative Bob Nance (R-Excelsior Springs) to forbid cities and towns from making more than 35 percent of total revenue from traffic tickets. The measure also cleared the Rules panel, a necessary step prior to House consideration. House passage is significant because although a similar bill cleared the state Senate last year, the measure failed to clear the House before adjournment.
Current law caps the amount of traffic ticket revenue at 45 percent, but some speed trap towns like Country Club Hills earned 61 percent of revenue from tickets. Other St. Louis County localities likely to be affected include Bella Villa, Calverton Park and Bel-Ridge. Twelve other jurisdictions in the county make at least a quarter of their budget from traffic tickets.
In the Northeastern region of the state, the city of Macks Creek faced bankruptcy after state officials cracked down on its speed trap revenue. State Senator John Cauthorn (R-Mexico), leader of the Senate effort, singled out Curryville, Eolia and Auxvasse as the worst offenders.
"These communities are earning a bad reputation for themselves," Cauthorn said upon passage of his bill last year. "The primary responsibility of law enforcement is to enforce laws and protect the public's safety -- not to generate revenue."
The bill directs all revenue from traffic fines and court costs in excess of 35 percent of a city, town or village's annual budget to the state Department of Revenue. Any jurisdiction that fails to comply is subject to an annual state audit. In committee, a special three-year protection was given to a speed trap towns in Jackson County prior to passage.
Article Excerpt:94TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY
FIRST REGULAR SESSION
HOUSE COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 122
Reported from the Committee on Judiciary March 6, 2007 with recommendation that House Committee Substitute for House Bill No. 122 Do Pass. Referred to the Committee on Rules pursuant to Rule 25(21)(f). --D. ADAM CRUMBLISS, Chief Clerk
To repeal section 302.341, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to revenues generated by moving traffic violations.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the state of Missouri, as follows:
Section A. Section 302.341, RSMo, is repealed and one new section enacted in lieu thereof, to be known as section 302.341, to read as follows:
302.341. 1. If a Missouri resident charged with a moving traffic violation of this state or any county or municipality of this state fails to dispose of the charges of which he or she is accused through authorized prepayment of fine and court costs and fails to appear on the return date or at any subsequent date to which the case has been continued, or without good cause fails to pay any fine or court costs assessed against him or her for any such violation within the period of time specified or in such installments as approved by the court or as otherwise provided by law, any court having jurisdiction over the charges shall within ten days of the failure to comply inform the defendant by ordinary mail at the last address shown on the court records that the court will order the director of revenue to suspend the defendant's driving privileges if the charges are not disposed of and fully paid within thirty days from the date of mailing. Thereafter, if the defendant fails to timely act to dispose of the charges and fully pay any applicable fines and court costs, the court shall notify the director of revenue of such failure and of the pending charges against the defendant. Upon receipt of this notification, the director shall suspend the license of the driver, effective immediately, and provide notice of the suspension to the driver at the last address for the driver shown on the records of the department of revenue. Such suspension shall remain in effect until the court with the subject pending charge requests setting aside the noncompliance suspension pending final disposition, or satisfactory evidence of disposition of pending charges and payment of fine and court costs, if applicable, is furnished to the director by the individual. Upon proof of disposition of charges and payment of fine and court costs, if applicable, and payment of the reinstatement fee as set forth in section 302.304, the director shall reinstate the license. The filing of financial responsibility with the bureau of safety responsibility, department of revenue, shall not be required as a condition of reinstatement of a driver's license suspended solely under the provisions of this section. If any city, town, or village receives more than [forty-five] thirty-five percent of its [total] annual general operating revenue from fines and court costs for traffic violations occurring on state highways, all revenues from such violations in excess of [forty-five] thirty-five percent of the [total] annual general operating revenue of the city, town, or village shall be sent to the director of the department of revenue and shall be distributed annually to the schools of the county in the same manner that proceeds of all penalties, forfeitures and fines collected for any breach of the penal laws of the state are distributed. For the purpose of this section the words "state highways" shall mean any state or federal highway, including any such highway continuing through the boundaries of a city, town or village with a designated street name other than the state highway number.
2. If any city, town, or village fails to send such excess revenues to the director of the department of revenue in a timely fashion which shall be set forth by the director by rule, such city, town, or village shall submit to an annual audit by the state auditor pursuant to the authority of article IV, section 13 of the Missouri Constitution. Any rule or portion of a rule, as that term is defined in section 536.010, RSMo, that is created under the authority delegated in this section shall become effective only if it complies with and is subject to all of the provisions of chapter 536, RSMo, and, if applicable, section 536.028, RSMo. This section and chapter 536, RSMo, are nonseverable and if any of the powers vested with the general assembly pursuant to chapter 536, RSMo, to review, to delay the effective date, or to disapprove and annul a rule are subsequently held unconstitutional, then the grant of rulemaking authority and any rule proposed or adopted after August 28, 2007, shall be invalid and void.
3. The provisions of this section shall not be applicable prior to January 1, 2010, for any county with a charter form of government and with more than six hundred thousand but fewer than seven hundred thousand inhabitants.