Rep. Rory Rowland, D-Independence, described the Missouri Capitol as a “castle of conflicted interest in the land of illogical conclusions” as both sides of the political line are trying to push through as many bills as possible before the legislative session ends May 17.
Rowland joined state Rep. Bill E. Kidd, R-Independence, and Sen. John Rizzo, D-Kansas City, Friday morning in a legislative update, sharing what they have been able to pass and what they haven’t.
One bill both sides desire to see pass, but disagree on its implementation, is Senate Bill 7, which seeks to modify what are known as “joinder” rules, which currently allow for out-of-state cases to be tried in Missouri courts.
Kidd and Rizzo both spoke about their desire to see change come to this part of Missouri law.
“If you’re out of Missouri, you shouldn’t be able to come to Missouri to shop for a judge, but we allow that,” said Kidd. “Our court systems are backed up because we allow that.”
How to implement that change is where much of the discussion is taking place. Rizzo said the Senate was on the floor with the bill until 7 a.m. from the previous day before coming to an agreement and moving it to the House.
“Our goal was to try to make it to where we didn’t harm Missourians, that there was no reset button,” he said, explaining that passing the bill without changes would have forced Missouri residents still in the pre-trial phase to start over in the system.
A similar bill was discussed last year but died when the session ended.
Kidd said criminal reform is also an ongoing debate at the Capitol, with several topics, such as medical marijuana bills, not gaining any traction.
“I’m not real thrilled about it (marijuana) personally,” he said. “But I’m also not an ostrich with my head in the sand saying this is not coming. We need to take a look at it and do it in a controlled manner.”
Kidd said the key to marijuana legislation is to build an infrastructure within the law’s language that will allow legislators in the future to easily modify the laws when needed, and as more information about the drug’s use arises.
Kidd also said the implementation of a needle-exchange program was shot down in discussions. Those programs allow injecting drug users to obtain clean needles for low cost or none at all. The programs also traditionally refer users to clinics and provide other educational tools as well. The offer of clean needles is to prevent the spread of diseases. Kidd said opponents of the programs say they facilitate drug use, but he disagreed.
“From all the people I’ve talked to that are there and actually participate in those things, it’s not that way at all,” he said.