Missouri House Speaker proposes changes to traffic fines
Missouri’s Republican House speaker is proposing a number of changes to how traffic violations are handled to address concerns raised by the fatal police shooting in Ferguson.
Don’t get too excited, because I read the words “Missouri House Speaker” in the headline.
The shooting of black 18-year-old Michael Brown by a white officer led to criticism that some cities excessively fine residents to fund their budgets.
Darren Wilson shot Michael Brown because the latter was in arrears on traffic tickets? The latter didn’t even have a drivers’ license, much less a car.
House Speaker John Diehl of Town and Country on Wednesday announced proposed changes to prevent that from happening. Those include limiting cities from funding more than 20 percent of their budgets from fines.
Yay! Cheer! Applause! Right On! Right On!
Buzz kill #1: Ferguson gets 15% of its revenue from fines, so this would not apply to them.
Buzz kill #2: Missouri already has very similar anti-speedtrap laws, but they’re rarely enforced. The main reason is that all this speedtrap revenue helps fund cop pensions in these smaller municipalities. Neither the state Attorney General or any of the state’s circuit attorneys are in any mood to enforce laws in such a way that it pisses off cops.
Another proposal would require courts to consider a defendant’s ability to pay fines and offer alternative payment plans, such as paying online or community service.
Already part of existing state law.
The Senate bill now is pending in a House committee. Diehl says he expects it will win approval within days.
Believe me, that’s proof that this legislation is window dressing. No effective piece of legislation on this matter will ever move this quickly.
Want the problem solved?
1. Disallow fines as a punishment for any crime or ordinance, as a matter of Federal civil rights.
2. Federalize and universalize the pensions of first responders.
Wake me up when you’re serious about solving the problem.