The Missouri House Civil Committee heard more testimony from proponents and opponents on Wednesday on legislation that would change the amount of revenue that can be supplied by traffic fines and court costs. The bill, also known as Macks Creek Law, would reduce the current threshold for the general operating revenue for cities, towns, villages or counties from thirty to ten percent.
Sponsor of the bill Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said some cities are generating revenue using unfair methods.
"So as the economy has gone downward, these cities are grabbing for more and more revenue," Schmitt said. "And maybe they can get it from their citizens, but what they shouldn't be able to do is set up a speed trap to go find it."
Mel Gilbert, an attorney from St. Buffalo, said he opposes the bill on behalf of the counties that do not generate revenue from tourism.
"The ones that don't have tourism dollars," Gilbert said. "Ones that don't have a Walmart. Ones that don't have sales tax generation to have a city budget capable of independently supporting a police department. It's apple's and oranges with the metropolitan areas and back in the country regarding this Macks Creek Law."
Schmitt said cities need to make enforcement a higher priority.
"At the heart of it, it is about the over reach of government," Schmitt said. "It is about government finding a new and innovative way to reach into your pocket without ever asking you if it's OK. Is it true that people are speeding? Yes. But when you have a certain number you're trying to hit every year, to me, that's less and less about enforcement and more and more about revenue generation."
The revenue in excess of the thirty percent threshold of the budget allowed by current Missouri law must be sent to the Department of Revenue where it is then sent to schools in the same area where the fees were collected.
The bill passed the Senate on Feb. 12 with a vote of 34-0.
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