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Parson signs omnibus law enforcement bill Tuesday


Gov. Mike Parson signed multiple bills into law on Tuesday, including one that will create new law enforcement legislation.

Senate Bill 754 is a larger crime bill that establishes several other laws, including Max's Law, Blair's Law and a law regarding juvenile parole eligibility. All legislation will take effect on Aug. 28.

Parson praised the bill and its bipartisan supporters on Tuesday.

"It's not always easy to get an omnibus law enforcement bill across the finish line," Parson said. "But I do think this bill is probably one of the better ones that I've seen coming across my desk, and [lawmakers] did a good job keeping it clean and did a good job for trying to really make the citizens of Missouri safer and to help support law enforcement to do their jobs better."

Juvenile parole

SB754 excludes any juvenile convicted of second-degree murder from getting earlier parole eligibility.

This comes a day after a Cole County woman -- who pleaded guilty to killing 9-year-old Elizabeth Olten when she was a teenager -- had a parole hearing.

Alyssa Bustamante, 30, pleaded guilty in 2012 to second-degree murder and armed criminal action. She was sentenced to life in prison. A decision in that parole hearing is expected to occur in the next several weeks.

According to previous reporting, Bustamante's parole eligibility became the subject of legislative attention in 2021. State lawmakers that year passed a bill that allowed people in prison on crimes they committed as children to become eligible for parole after 15 years of their sentence. Bustamante would have first been eligible for parole in 2044, but the 2021 law shortened that timeframe

Officials on Tuesday said the hearing had nothing to do with the signing of SB754 this week.

"No matter when I signed it, it didn't go into effect until August 28," Parson said. "It didn't have a mercy clause in it, so it had no bearing on that parole hearing whatsoever yesterday, and it wouldn't have made any difference one way or the other."

However, lawmakers said they are glad this loophole in the law has been closed.

"You would have people who thought that they had closed a dark chapter on their life and that somebody was getting a lifetime sentence, only to be pulled in and having constant hearings in front of the parole board. It re-victimizes those families," Luetkemeyer said. "The bill that the governor [signed] also closes that loophole to make sure that we give closure to those victims and their families."

Max's Law

The bill includes Max's Law, which increases the penalty for killing a police K-9 from a misdemeanor to a felony. It is named after a St. Joseph Police Department K-9 who was shot and killed 2021.

St. Joseph police officer Lucas Winder said he was serving a high-risk warrant in 2021 with his K-9, Max, when Max was shot and killed.

"He sacrificed his life in order for us to continue to be here, and I'm forever thankful that he was there that day," Winder said.

Winder had Max for almost three years before his death, and said Max was trained as a drug and patrol K-9.

Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer (R-Parkville) has been working with Winder on this legislation since Max's death three years ago.

"Before Max's Law, the law really treated police canines as property, and so it was minor property damage," Luetkemeyer said. "This makes sure that that crime is being elevated to a felony so these dogs are actually being protected."

Winder said Max was part of his family and it's a great feeling to know his legacy will live on.

"I know it directly impacted St. Joseph, but to see it on the state level, it just shows you that these K-9 officers do matter," Winder said. "And that's the biggest thing we can ask for is that you understand that they provide something to our communities, they are a part of our communities and they should be honored as such."

Even though Max's Law has passed, Winder said he will continue to raise funds locally and nationally for the fallen police K-9 fund.

Blair's Law

SB754 also establishes Blair's Law, which criminalizes celebratory gunfire. It is named after Blair Shanahan Lane, a young Kansas City girl who lost her life in 2011 to celebratory gunfire.

Blair's mother, Michele Shanahan DeMoss, has been advocating for this legislation for over a decade. She said Tuesday she's happy to see the bill make it to the finish line because it's about more than just Blair.

"Blair will always be it to me, but nobody else should seat in my seat," Shanahan DeMoss said.

The bill was vetoed by Parson last year, and Parson thanked the family and lawmakers for continuing to push for the legislation this year.

"I thank you for staying the course to do what is right because you are going to help somebody else out," Parson said. "At the end of the day, that's what we're all supposed to be doing is trying to make things a little better for somebody else."

Shanahan DeMoss said while there were moments she wanted to walk away, that was never an option.

"With regards to Blair's life and death, I can't ask why. I need to make something good happen," Shanahan DeMoss said. "So that's really where I've been at. I can't go backwards."

Bill sponsor Rep. Mark Sharp (D-Kansas City) stuck with Blair's Law year after year.

"Every year it got further and further in the process and there were too many good things happening with this legislation," Sharp said. "Quite frankly, as a member of the minority party, to see any traction on any bill that you have, you can't give up on them."

SB754 also establishes Valentine's Law which creates a separate felony offense for fleeing law enforcement, Luetkemeyer said. It is named for police officer Antonio Valentine who was killed in the line of duty during a high speed chase.

Article Topic Follows: Missouri

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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