Missouri Senate approves limit to locals' ticket revenue stream

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 3/2/2015

Multiple Missouri lawmakers are pursuing changes 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.

The state Senate voted to advance one bill that would see the threshold lowered to 10 percent over two years. SB5 now moves to the House.

Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, said the bill would help right a wrong for cities that adhere to “abusive traffic ticket schemes.”

According to a fiscal note attached to the bill, the change would raise an extra $126,600 for education over the next two years.

Supporters say the effort isn’t intended to punish local governments. They want to rein in communities that use their police departments to “pester” nonresident drivers with unreasonable ticketing.

Schmitt’s bill, SB5, would lower the threshold to 20 percent in January 2016. The threshold would be reduced to 10 percent in January 2017.

An exception would be made for small rural towns. Affected locales would see their threshold lowered only to 20 percent.

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

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

“For far too long there have been too many municipalities too reliant on traffic tickets and fines to derive their revenue,” Schmitt said in prepared remarks. “People in this state deserve better than to be viewed as ATMs for bloated municipal government.”

The bill awaits assignment to committee in the House.

Other efforts at the statehouse to rein in speed traps include two House bills that would also lower the revenue threshold from 30 to 10 percent.

One more Senate bill addresses concerns about municipalities that annex parts of state highways or interstates. Sponsored by Sen. Kiki Curls, D-Kansas City, SB430 would require annexing locales to also provide services to areas that extend one mile in each direction from the affected roadway.

Copyright © OOIDA