Five Takeaways From Senate Bill 5, the Sweeping, Significant and Complex Municipal Courts Bill

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If you’ve developed an interest in legislation inspired by the unrest in Ferguson, then you’ve probably seen some strong adjectives attached to a law known as Senate Bill 5.

Sen. Eric Schmitt’s legislation has been described as “sweeping,” “multi-faceted,” “massive,” “broad” and “significant.” It lowers the percentage of traffic fine revenue cities can keep; prompts St. Louis County cities to adhere to certain standards; and provides new guidelines for how municipal courts should operate.

Most believe the bill that goes into effect on Friday will have a major effect on municipalities and municipal courts – especially in St. Louis County. But SB5’s impact will likely be complex – and slow moving. It may be years before the legislation’s true effect is clear.

Here are five things that will affect the impact of Senate Bill 5:

1. Many of the key provisions don’t go into effect immediately

Arguably SB5’s biggest change is lowering the percentage of traffic fine revenue a city can keep. That percentage eventually goes to 20 percent for most Missouri towns and 12.5 percent for St. Louis County municipalities.

The state auditor’s office will have a great deal of responsibility for making sure cities comply with the new percentages. Earlier this week, Auditor Nicole Galloway said the financial reporting element of the new percentages doesn’t start until Jan. 1, 2016, or the date after a city’s fiscal year begins. She also said her office is coming up with rules on how cities should turn in financial information and how municipalities can certify certain municipal court procedures.

Galloway said these rules – which should be in place by the end of the year – should provide “additional ways for the auditor’s office” to hold “municipal governments and hold municipal courts accountable.”

Read the other four takeaways…

Source: STL Public Radio