JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri schools aren't getting all the money from drug seizures and forfeitures as required by the state constitution because loopholes in the law, two lawmakers said Tuesday.
The money seized from drug busts in Missouri is sometimes funneled through the federal government allowing most of the money to come back to law enforcement agencies rather than schools, said Rep. Jim Kreider, D-Nixa.
The state constitution says criminal forfeitures, usually large sums of unclaimed money seized in drug busts, should go to education.
In some cases, however, the money is traced by the Drug Enforcement Agency, to determine if it was illegally obtained, Col. Wil Wilhoit of the Highway Patrol said.
If so, some of the money is returned to state law enforcement.
Since the DEA is not bound by the state constitution, it keeps part of the money and gives the rest to law enforcement.
"I think eighty percent is returned to the local (law enforcement) agency, and twenty percent is kept for federal administration purposes," said Kreider, who serves as House Speaker Pro Tem.
The representatives made the comments after a hearing of a committee convened to discern why the schools aren't getting the money and to make recommendations to remedy the situation.
Kreider said he wanted to dispel the myth that law enforcement agencies are the bad guys, taking money from schools. He said he wants to accomplish that by forcing law enforcement to document asset seizures more thoroughly.
"Nobody knows anything about where the money from forfeitures goes," he said.
Chris Straub of the Missouri Council of School Administrators and Randy Scherr of Missouri Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers asked that agencies comply with the constitution.
"We ask you to strengthen or clarify the constitutional provisions," Straub said.
During last spring's legislative session, several measures were introduced that would split forfeiture money evenly between police and schools. None of the bills passed.