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Missouri lawmakers approve further limits on locals’ ticket revenue stream

The Missouri General Assembly has voted to send a bill to the governors desk that is intended to curtail speed traps around the state.

Missouri law limits to 30 percent the amount of traffic fine revenue municipalities can keep. Cities or towns that receive more are required to turn it over to the state. The revenue is then applied to schools in the community.

House and Senate lawmakers reached agreement on a bill to see the threshold lowered to 12.5 percent for St. Louis County municipalities and 20 percent for other areas. SB5 now awaits Gov. Jay Nixons signature.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said it is important to rein in the ongoing practice of municipalities, especially in the St. Louis area, drumming up local revenue through excessive traffic tickets.

Government should exist to serve its citizens, not extort them, Schmitt said in prepared remarks. Passing this bill is a big step toward ending government by speed trap and taxation by citation.

Fine amounts would also be limited to no more than $300.

According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, the fine cap would result in the loss of about $550,000 for the city of Kansas City.

In an effort to help prevent municipalities from shielding ticket revenue from schools, the bill also provides a definition of general operating revenue.

Communities that fail to send all excess revenue to county schools could face disincorporation via a public vote.

A very important part of this bill is the clarity it provides for municipalities and for drivers, Schmitt stated. By putting in place an inclusive definition of revenue, municipalities will know specifically how their budgets are funded.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Missouri, click here.

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