Posted: Jul 13, 2012 3:53 PM by Matt Evans
Updated: Jul 13, 2012 6:56 PM
JEFFERSON CITY - Governor Jay Nixon announced Friday he would allow the final bill awaiting his approval or veto from the 2012 legislative session to become law without his signature.
Senate Bill 628 would modify several laws dealing with the judiciary. The bill includes reducing differences between people convicted of producing, distributing or possessing crack cocaine and powder cocaine. Missouri law previously stated that people convicted of having two grams of crack could face the same prison time as those convicted of having more than 150 grams of powder cocaine.
Now those possessing more than eight grams of crack cocaine would face the same sentences as people having more than 150 grams of powder cocaine.
The change follows a report from the Sentencing Project that showed Missouri had the highest sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine offenses, at 75-1. The report also showed that the sentencing differences were unfair to black drug users because they are more likely to face crack cocaine charges than powder cocaine charges.
"This bill is a good example of Democrats and Republicans, the House and Senate working together," said Rep. Chris Kelly, D-Columbia.
Nixon said he would allow the bill to become law without his signature because he thought the bill had merit, but the legislature was not as transparent as it could have been in its drafting and passage.
Governor Nixon has now taken action on all of the 112 bills passed by the General Assembly. He signed 97 of them and vetoed another 14 and allowed this one to become law without his signature. Gov. Nixon also signed three other bills Friday - just one day before the deadline for bills to be signed or vetoed - Senate Bill 469, House Bill 1135 and House Bill 1608. SB 469 and HB 1135 both require state agencies to review rules every five years and get rid of any unnecessary rules and HB 1608 repeals unfunded or obsolete state programs.