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House Gives Final Approvial to Crime Bill

April 22, 1999
By: Melissa Miller
State Capital Bureau
Links: HB 283

JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's House gave their final approval to this year's massive crime bill, but two of Columbia's three Representatives voted against it.

The bill would extend the amount of time a suspect can be held in jail before being charged with a crime from 20 hours, the lowest in the nation, to 48 hours.

That was the issue that persuaded Rep. Tim Harlan, D-Columbia, to vote against the bill.

"The 48-hour-hold opens up too many chances for abuse," Harlan said.

Columbia Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson also voted no. She said she was concerned the bill creates too many new crimes.

"We must have a balance between protecting the public and protecting our civil liberties," Wilson said. "This bill went too far."

The bill includes a great more than the jail-holding time provision. It also creates crimes including identity theft, financial exploitation of the elderly, and leaving the scene of a serious physical injury or death without notifying authorities.

Another reason Wilson cites for opposing the bill is a requirement that people with drug convictions would be forced to register like sex offenders do.

Exempting the mentally retarded from the death penalty, something eleven other states currently do, also was tacked on to the legislation as it worked its way through the House.

The only Columbia Representative who voted for the crime bill was Rep. Chuck Graham. He sponsored a part of the bill granting more authority law enforcement to make white-collar criminals to pay back the money they owe.

"It has been a big problem in Boone County." Graham said. "The University, the city of Columbia, Shelter Insurance, and lots of other places have all had problems with this."

Historically, Graham has been more supportive of anti-crime measures than other Columbia Representatives.

"They have a more liberal perspective on crime and punishment than I do," Graham said. "I represent more of the rural areas of Boone County where people tend to be more conservative."

The bill passed the House with a vote of 103 to 52 and will now be considered by the Senate, who is likely to make major modifications to the measure.

"We hope when it comes back to the House from the Senate we'll still be able to recognize it," said Rep. Craig Hosmer, D-Springfield, sponsor of the crime legislation.