On Monday, the House General Laws Committee heard public testimony on a bill that would create a civil cause of action for claimants to seek damages from the state for wrongful conviction. HB 327, sponsored by Representative LaKeySha Bosley (D-St. Louis), would allow wrongfully convicted prisoners to sue for up to $65,000 per fiscal year of imprisonment. Additionally, the bill would also allow claims for compensation to be made by claimants who were proven actually innocent through means other than DNA evidence. Speaking before the committee, Bosley said the bill’s implementation would help those who have been wrongfully convicted put their lives back on track. Following Representative Bosley’s discussion with the committee, the MCC gave testimony in support of this bill. The bill now awaits a vote by the committee before it can move forward through the legislature.
Within the same hearing, the House General Laws Committee also heard HB 747, sponsored by Representative Chad Perkins (R-Bowling Green). The bill contains provisions that would prohibit adults from accessing their personal SNAP benefits for varying degrees of time if they both fail to abide by federal work requirements and fail to fall within a valid category of work exemption. In a presentation of the bills, Perkins stated that although work-eligible adults who fail to meet the necessary work requirements risk temporarily losing access to their SNAP benefits, the SNAP benefits of that person’s children will always be available, regardless of whether the parent has lost access to their own SNAP benefits. The MCC testified against HB 747, arguing that even if children will still have guaranteed access to government assistance, cutting their parent’s benefits would still risk substantial harm. This bill has since been voted “Do Pass”, and awaits further debate within the Missouri House.