NEWS

Four Years Later, AG Schmitt Lauds Success of Senate Bill 5

Jun 13, 2019, 16:32 PM by AG Schmitt
Jefferson City, Mo. (March 28, 2019) – Four years after Senate Bill 5 was passed into law, Attorney General Schmitt is lauding the successes of the bill in curbing ticketing abuse in Missouri’s municipalities. In 2015, then-State Senator Schmitt worked to pass Senate Bill 5 in the wake of the events in Ferguson. Senate Bill 5 was passed to curb abusive fundraising tactics through traffic tickets and other violations.

Jefferson City, Mo. – Four years after Senate Bill 5 was passed into law, Attorney General Schmitt is lauding the successes of the bill in curbing ticketing abuse in Missouri’s municipalities. In 2015, then-State Senator Schmitt worked to pass Senate Bill 5 in the wake of the events in Ferguson. Senate Bill 5 was passed to curb abusive fundraising tactics through traffic tickets and other violations.  

“Taxation by citation breaks down necessary trust between citizens and government, and treating citizens like ATMs for minor infractions is unacceptable and unsustainable. Missourians shouldn’t have to choose between paying bills or paying exorbitant ticket fees,” said AG Schmitt. “I was proud to advocate for Senate Bill 5 in 2015, and in my new role as Attorney General I’m able to more closely oversee how the bill is working to stop overzealous ticketing practices and restore trust in municipal courts. A drastic reduction in revenues collected by municipalities across the state on traffic tickets and other violations shows that Senate Bill 5 is working.” 

In an analysis conducted by the Attorney General’s Office, revenues generated by municipal courts fell from $132 million in Fiscal Year 2013 to $74 million in Fiscal Year 2018, a nearly 44 percent decline statewide. Additionally, municipalities in the St. Louis region saw a substantial decrease as well, with revenues falling from $57 million in FY 2013 to $21 million in FY 2018. 

Senate Bill 5 lowered the limit to 20 percent for how much a municipality’s revenue could be generated by traffic fines and fees. Municipalities are required by the Senate Bill 5 reforms to file an addendum annually with the State Auditor’s Office. These addendums allow citizens to easily identify how much of a municipality’s revenue is collected from fines, fees, and tickets.  

Attorney General Schmitt has been in the forefront of court reform since he took office in January. In one of his first acts as Attorney General, Schmitt filed an Amicus Brief in the State of Missouri v. Richey, opposing the practice of modern day “debtors’ prisons.” In the brief, he argued no Missouri statute provides clear authority to consider jail debts as court costs. When jail debt is considered a court cost, an individual who is delinquent in paying his or her fine could be incarcerated. 

Schmitt also praised the recent Supreme Court of Missouri ruling in the State of Missouri v. Richey, stating, “Missourians shouldn’t be forced into a cycle of incarceration and used as an ATM simply for being unable to pay jail debts, and classifying jail debts, or board bills, as court costs continues that cycle.”