Governor asks for fixes in criminal code overhaul

Gov. Jay Nixon said staff had discovered two errors in a massive bill overhauling the state's criminal code.

Further changes are coming to the state's criminal code after Gov. Jay Nixon said Tuesday staff discovered several errors in an overhaul bill.

Nixon told reporters his staff had found errors in a massive bill overhauling the state's criminal code that he said would hobble law enforcement. In one, he said a refusal to submit to a blood alcohol content test would be inadmissible evidence in a court of law unless a driver suspected of driving while intoxicated was under the age of 21. Another line would decriminalize large purchases of pseudoephedrine, which is used to make methamphetamine.

"Things of this magnitude, before they get my signature, they're going to be right," he said. "And with those two mistakes in them, I wouldn't consider it."

On Tuesday afternoon, Senate Bill 491, which contains the criminal code revisions, went into effect without Nixon's signature. The House version of that bill, House Bill 1371, is being amended to reflect the governor's wishes. That bill's sponsor, Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia, told KRCG 13 Nixon had asked for "about 15" changes, most of them cleaning up language. Cox said he was not sure either of the issues Nixon listed were particularly serious, though he said the language dealing with DWI offenses was a little loose.

Cox said he thought trying to push changes to the code through the legislature in three days was unnecessary because SB 491's provisions do not become law for two years. He said that leaves the legislature plenty of time to double-check its work. Still, he said he wanted to get the governor's signature on a criminal code bill and would work to honor his wishes.

Nixon said he was confident HB 1371 would reach his desk before the session ends Friday evening. He said he plans to sign the corrected version of the criminal code overhaul.