Legislative Update 1-11-19

The Missouri General Assembly convened on January 9 for the annual 5 month session.  We will provide weekly updates and urgent calls for action throughout the session.  Below are bills of municipal interest that have been pre-filed.

Court Bills

HB 67 (Plocher) – allows a court to order credit for time served when an individual has been held in custody for a show cause order pertaining to any matter related to a minor traffic violation. The bill further requires any summons, notice to appear, or citation for a minor traffic violation to include the date and time a defendant is to appear in court when the defendant is first provided the summons, notice to appear, or citation. If the summons does not include such information when first given to the defendant, the summons will be void.  The bill also prohibits a prosecutor in a county with a population greater than 250,000 from concurrently serving as city attorney.

HB 385 (Ellebracht) – specifies that limits on fines for traffic violations shall not apply if the defendant is represented by counsel and entered into a plea agreement with the court.

HB 415 (Gray) – specifies that if the court finds that a defendant is indigent or is without sufficient disposable income to pay restitution, court costs, fees, expenses, or fines in whole or in installments over a one-year period, upon motion of the defendant, the court must consider sentencing the defendant to perform community service.

HB 427 (Helms) – repeals provisions stating that failure to appear procedures in moving traffic violation cases, which include driving license suspension, shall not apply to minor traffic violations.  This bill repeals a provision prohibiting a municipal judge from serving as a municipal judge in more than five municipalities.  The terms “annual general operating revenue,” “minor traffic violation,” and “municipal ordinance violation,” as applied in provisions regarding the assessment of fines in minor traffic violation and municipal ordinance violation cases, are modified.  The bill repeals a provision prohibiting defendants in minor traffic violation or municipal ordinance violation cases from being placed in confinement for failure to pay a fine unless such nonpayment violates terms of probation or unless due process

procedures are followed. This bill specifies that if such defendant fails to appear and the court finds there is not good

cause for failing to appear, the current limitations regarding fines and confinement shall not apply. The bill also decreases the maximum amount of the fine a court can assess for minor traffic violations, if combined with court costs, from $225 to $150.  Currently, a county or municipality that has a municipal court must submit a financial report to the auditor. This bill provides that a county or municipality meets compliance with this requirement by filing a statement confirming that 20% or less of its general revenue comes from fines, bond forfeitures, and court costs in

municipal court cases.  This bill modifies the procedures to be adopted and certified by each municipal court by repealing the procedure of prohibiting the detention of defendants in order to coerce the payment of fines and costs unless such defendant is found to be in contempt after compliance with due process and the procedure stating that the

community service alternatives are to be offered at no cost to the defendant.  (Support)

SB 79 (Emery) – modifies the definition of the terms “annual general operating revenue” and “minor traffic violation” as applied in provisions regarding the assessment of fines in minor traffic violation and municipal ordinance violation cases. “Annual general operating revenue” now includes, rather than excludes, designated sales or use taxes, restricted user fees, grant funds, funds expended for technological assistance and other revenue designated for a specific purpose. The term “minor traffic violation” now excludes, rather than includes, amended charges.   A court shall not assess a fine and court costs in excess of $500, rather than $225, in minor traffic violations.   Currently, not more than twenty percent of a municipality’s annual general operating revenue can come from certain fines, penalties, and forfeitures. The act repeals court costs and amended charges for municipal ordinance violations from being included in the twenty percent calculation. This act also removes a provision specifying that beginning January 1, 2016, the previous thirty percent limitation on municipal income shall be reduced to twenty percent except in St. Louis County, where it shall be reduced to twelve and one half percent.  Current law requires counties and towns with a municipal court to file with the State Auditor a report demonstrating compliance with certain municipal court procedures. This act repeals the requirement that the court establish procedures to allow indigent defendants to present evidence of their financial condition. The act also repeals the municipal court requirements that community service alternatives are to be offered at no cost to the defendant, and that no additional charge shall be issued for the failure to appear for a minor traffic violation.  Finally, the act repeals provisions which establish procedures to dissolve a municipal government when it fails to remit the revenue collected from certain fines, penalties, and forfeitures in excess of twenty percent to the DOR.  (Support)

SB 207 (Emery) –  allows any city or village to establish, by ordinance, an administrative adjudication system for certain municipal code violations.  The administrative tribunal shall operate under the supervision of the municipal court. Currently, the administrative tribunal may operate under the supervision of the municipal court, parking commission, or other entity designated by order or ordinance. This act provides that administrative law judges may be municipal court judges or other persons qualified to be a municipal court judge.   Points for driving violations shall be assessed by the Department of Revenue in the same manner as municipal court proceedings.   Currently, any final determination of a code violation by an administrative tribunal may be reviewed under the Administrative Procedure and Review Act or by a trial de novo in circuit court, at the request of the defendant within 10 days. This act repeals the availability of review by a trial de novo in circuit court and only provides for judicial review under the Administrative Procedure and Review Act.   (Support)

Economic Development Bills

HB 31 (Stacy) – provides that the board or body overseeing a special taxing district may elect to have 50% of their property or sales taxes excluded from a TIF project or plan by passing a resolution with a two-thirds majority provided certain notice and public comment requirements are met. A school board of a school district may also elect to have 50% of its portion of property tax revenue allocated to the district by a county or city excluded from a TIF project or plan by passing a resolution with a two-thirds majority provided certain notice and public comment requirements are met.

HB 32 (Stacy) – a municipality cannot adopt a redevelopment plan without making certain findings, which now must include a study conducted by a third party that includes a detailed description of the qualifying factors. This bill also prevents tax increment allocation financing in retail areas unless financing is exclusively used to fund retail infrastructure projects or if it is located in a blighted area or conservation area.  Also includes provisions from HB 31 above.

HB 84 (Beck) – changes the definitions of “economic activity taxes” in TIF projects to exclude local sales taxes dedicated to an education program or a fire protection district and “payment in lieu of taxes” to exclude revenue from any

tax levied on real property whose revenue is dedicated to an education program or a fire protection district. The bill requires a redevelopment commission to approve a redevelopment plan before the redevelopment project can begin.

HB 88 (Beck) – modifies the Fairness in Public Construction Act by permitting the state or any political subdivision to enter into a union-only project labor agreement for the procurement of construction services on a project-by-project basis if the project is funded 50% or less with state funds and sets forth certain criteria that must be considered before the state or a political subdivision may enter into such an agreement.

HB 94 (Green) – TIF cannot be used for more than 5% of the total estimated redevelopment costs or 30% of the infrastructure costs, whichever is greater, of a project that is primarily retail unless the redevelopment is in a municipality, census block group, or group of block groups with a median household income less than 70% of that of the metropolitan area, a distressed community, a federal enterprise zone, or a federal empowerment zone.

HB 137 (Kidd) – authorizes a school board to remove its district’s operating levy from the definition of levies that are subject to tax increment allocation financing for redevelopment projects.

HJR 3 (Ellington) – Constitutional amendment would prohibit counties and other political subdivisions from authorizing tax increment financing pursuant to a redevelopment plan unless such plan is approved by a majority of the qualified voters of that county or political subdivision.  (Oppose)

SB 108 (Koenig) – modifies local tax increment financing projects by providing that a study shall be conducted by a party other than the proponent of the redevelopment plan, which details how the area meets the definition of an area eligible to receive tax increment financing.  This act modifies the definitions of “blighted area” and “conservation area”.  This act also provides that retail areas, as defined in the act, shall not receive tax increment financing unless such financing is exclusively utilized to fund retail infrastructure projects, as defined in the act, or unless such area is a blighted or conservation area.

Election Bills

HB 28 (Stacy) – requires local elections to use the instant runoff ranked choice voting method. Voters rank the candidates in an ordinal preference fashion and then the candidate with the lowest total is eliminated and the process is repeated until a result is reached as specified in the bill.

HB 30 (Stacy) – requires the circuit court to conduct transportation development district director elections in a manner similar to mail-in elections for any registered voters in a district.

HB 363 (Roeber) – prohibits the contribution or expenditure of public funds, including public resources or specified property, by any officer, board member, director, administrator, employee, or agent of any political subdivision to advocate, support, or oppose any ballot measure or candidate for public office.  The bill does not prohibit these individuals from making public appearances or from issuing press releases concerning any such ballot measure.

Land Use and P&Z Bills

HB 116 (Runions) – provides that, as an alternative to the municipal planning commission electing its chair, the mayor, with the approval of the board or council, must appoint one citizen member from the first ward of the municipality to be chair of the planning commission; thereafter, the term of chair shall be for one year, and the position of chair shall rotate among wards in numerical order.

Miscellaneous Bills

HB 246 (Neely) – relates to conflicts of interest for the governing body of a political subdivision.  The bill specifies the process for resolution of certain conflict of interest problems that arise when a quorum of members is prevented from voting because one or more members has a conflict of interest.  In such cases, the board or other entity may seek an opinion from the Missouri Ethics Commission either allowing the vote because it is in the best interests of the public or not allow the vote.  If the commission declines to allow a member with a conflict of interest from participating in a vote, then the common law rule of necessity cannot be invoked to allow the vote.  The commission must notify the governing body of its decision within 30 days of receiving the referral and the disqualified member may appeal to the commission within 30 days of being notified of the decision.

HB 271 (Shaul) – prohibits political subdivisions from adopting ordinances restricting the use of plastic bags or other disposable containers.  (Oppose)

HB 297 (Hicks) – prohibits villages, towns, and cities from regulating dogs in a breed-specific manner.  (Oppose)

HB 386 (Ellebracht) – amends the Missouri Sunshine Law in Chapter 610, RSMo, amends the definition of “public record” to include the social media pages of a public governmental body, including the personal social media pages of members of the governmental body in specified circumstances. The bill expands the requirements for preservation of communications through electronic means, including social media accounts, and requires the public entity to produce such records in usable electronic format.

HB 412 (Gray) – Prohibits third and fourth class cities in St. Louis County from imposing a fee for a false alarm to which the police department responds if it is the alarm user’s first false alarm in a twelve-month period.

HB 473 (Grier) – Prohibits municipalities from regulating home based businesses.  (Oppose)

HB 483 (Stacy) – a political subdivision shall evaluate and approve or deny a building plan, or application or inspection for a certificate of occupancy, not signed and sealed by an engineer or architect licensed in this state within five days of the plan’s submission or one day of the application’s or inspection’s submission. A denial must include the reason therefor, specific citations to the building code, and the actions required to receive approval.  Resubmissions of a denied plan shall be evaluated within five business days of resubmission while resubmission of a denied application or inspection shall be evaluated within one business day. A new plan, application, or inspection shall be approved if it includes changes that remedy all reasons for its original denial.  Resubmitted plans cannot be denied for any requirement not

stated in the initial denial. If a political subdivision fails to evaluate and approve or deny a plan, application, or inspection

within the required time, the plan will be deemed approved and a permit shall be issued within seven business days of submission or resubmission while the application or inspection shall be deemed approved and a certificate of occupancy shall be issued within two business days.  A political subdivision shall approve a residential building plan signed and sealed by an engineer or architect licensed in this state and issue a permit within two days of the plan’s submission.

An application or inspection for a certificate of occupancy signed and sealed by an engineer or architect licensed in this state shall be approved and a certificate issued within one business day of the application’s or inspection’s submission.

In lieu of a political subdivision conducting building permit inspections, the recipient of the permit may hire an architect or engineer licensed in this state to inspect the work and report the results to the political subdivision using uniform inspection forms.  A process and schedule for the issuance of a temporary certificate of occupancy are specified in the bill.  Each violation by any member of a political subdivision is a class A misdemeanor and shall make the political subdivision liable to the applicant for a civil penalty of $5,000 per violation.  (Oppose)

SB 122 (Burlison) – This act establishes the Stop Socialism Act. The act creates a cause of action by any person against a state or local public body if the public body provides, or offers to provide, a competitive service that is also provided by the person within the jurisdiction of the public body.  Upon showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the offering of the service by the public body has been to the economic detriment of the person, the court shall award the person damages in an amount equal to the revenue lost by the person due to the actions of the public body. A court may also enjoin the public body from continuing to offer the competitive service.  (Oppose)

SB 124 (Hough) – authorizes a political subdivision to hold a vote on whether or not to cover emergency fire and police telecommunicators, jailors, and emergency medical service personnel as public safety personnel members in the Missouri local government employee’s retirement system. If the election made then the minimum retirement age for public safety personnel is 55 years of age.

SB 125 (Hough) – establishes the “Missouri Municipal Government Expenditure Database,” to be maintained by the State Treasurer in conjunction with the Office of Administration. For each fiscal year beginning on or after June 1, 2020, the database shall include detailed information about a given municipality’s expenditures and the vendors to whom payments were made.  The database must be accessible by the public without charge and have multiple ways to search and filter the information. Municipalities with website’s must provide a link to the database.   A municipality must provide the information to the Treasurer on a quarterly basis or it will be fined $100 per day after 14 days.  The fine will be collected by offsetting sales and use tax distributions due to the municipality and will be distributed to the schools of the county in the same manner that penalties, forfeitures, and fines for breaches of penal laws are distributed.  (Oppose)

SB 215 (Schupp) – Current law states that all merchants are required to provide customers the option of either a paper or plastic bag.  Political subdivisions are also prohibited from imposing any ban on the use of either paper or plastic bags. This act repeals these provisions.  (Support)

Public Safety Bills

HB 48 (Bangert) – establishes a presumption that post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosed in an emergency worker, during his or her service or within three years of the date of last active service, shall be an occupational disease compensable under Section 287.067.

HB 81 (Hill) – requires, within five years, that any city with a population of 5000 or less inhabitants, with an area of less than two square miles, with a municipal police department, and located in St. Louis County, to disband its police

department and to contract for law enforcement services with either the county police department, or another city.  (Oppose)

HB 128 (Carter) – adds a requirement that the Peace Officer Standards and Training commission include in its requirements for continuing education a requirement that all peace officers complete a minimum of 72 total credit hours of continuing education training within each 3-year reporting period.

HB 150 (Ellington) – in order to search a vehicle or person inside a vehicle regarding an alleged violation of law or ordinance, this bill requires the peace officer to read a statement specified in the bill to a person with the authority to provide permission to search the vehicle or to the person who would be subject to the search. The peace officer may conduct the requested search only if the person subject to the search consents.

HB 236 (Franks) – repeals a section of statute that states that an officer may use all means necessary to effect an arrest if

the defendant flees or forcibly resists after the officer gives notice to the defendant of his or her intention to arrest the


HB 446 (Dogan) – requires every law enforcement agency to have a written policy regarding the investigation of officer-involved deaths.  The written policy specified in the bill requires an investigation to be conducted by at least two investigators in the case of a traffic-related death; the investigation to use a crash reconstruction unit; and allows for an internal investigation.  The investigators conducting an investigation must provide a complete report to the prosecutor of the county.

SB 75 (Curls) – authorizes any county, city, or village, to enact an ordinance to require that any person carrying a concealed weapon within the boundaries of such political subdivision must have a valid concealed carry permit or endorsement.  Any penalty for violation of the ordinance must be consistent with authority granted to such political subdivision under state law.

SB 121 (Burlison) – would allow concealed weapons at local government meetings, bars,  child care facilities and colleges, among other locations.  Would prohibit cities from passing any law limiting concealed weapons.  (Oppose)

SB 212 (Sifton) – Under this act, the death, disability, or impairment of health of any person who is a firefighter, police officer, emergency medical technician, or other first responder of any political subdivision shall be considered an occupational disease if the following conditions are met: the person must have completed five or more years of employment as a firefighter, police officer, emergency medical technician, or other first responder; the death, disability, or impairment of health must have been caused by a disease of the lungs or respiratory tract, hypertension, cardiovascular-renal disease, or post-traumatic stress disorder; the death, disability, or impairment of health must be the result of employment as a firefighter, police officer, emergency medical technician, or other first responder; and the person must have taken a physical examination upon becoming employed that failed to reveal any evidence of any condition or impairment of health.  Clear and convincing medical evidence that the cause of the condition or impairment of health of the person is unrelated to their employment is required in order to deny a workers’ compensation claim under this act.

Taxation and Revenue Bills

HB 41 (Lavender) –  requires certain out-of-state sellers with no physical presence in Missouri to collect and remit Missouri sales tax. The seller must remit sales tax if he or she sells tangible personal property or products electronically and had previous or current calendar year sales of at least $100,000 or 200 or more transactions in this state.  (


HB 374 (Christafonelli) – requires after August 28, 2019, the cumulative sales and use tax rate imposed for state and local taxes is not to exceed 14%.  If at that time any political subdivision has a cumulative rate above the cap, the political subdivision may continue to levy such rates but not impose any new rates unless the political subdivision repeals other sales taxes so that the total sales tax rate does not exceed 14%.  (Oppose)

HJR 8 (Ellebracht) – Constitutional amendment would prevent increases in the rates of any personal property taxes for

individuals 65 years or older.

HJR 19 (Christafanelli) – requires approval of 50% of registered voters for tax increase elections.  (Oppose)

SB 46 (Koenig) – lower state income tax, enacts collection of sales taxes by businesses without a nexus in the state and enacts the streamlined sales law. 

SB 50 (Eigel) – lower state income tax, enacts collection of sales taxes by businesses without a nexus in the state and establishes a simplified remote sales tax act. 

SB 52 (Eigel) – lowers state income tax but increases state sales tax by 2%.  This act also places a cap of 8.775% on the combined rates of local sales taxes for any given taxing jurisdiction. Taxing jurisdictions in which the combined rate of sales taxes is in excess of such cap as of January 1, 2020, shall not be required to reduce or repeal any such taxes, but shall not be authorized to impose any new tax which shall result in a total combined rate of sales taxes in excess of the cap established in this act.  (Oppose)

SB 112 (Eigel) – repeals the St. Louis and Kansas City earnings tax over a 10 year period.  (Oppose)

SB 149 (Koenig) – caps combined local sales tax rate at 7.275% (county, municipal and special districts)  (Oppose)

SB 189 (Crawford) enacts collection of sales taxes by businesses without a nexus in the state and clarifies use tax ballot language.  (Support)

SJR 4 (Eigel) – Constitutional amendment to place a cap on annual appropriations and reduces income tax rates based on revenue growth.  (Oppose)

SJR 5 (Eigel) – Constitutional amendment to eliminate personal property tax.  (Oppose)

SJR 10 (Burlison) – Constitutional amendment to place a cap on annual appropriations and reduces income tax rates based on revenue growth.  (Oppose)

SJR 12  (Eigel) – Constitutional amendment to require approval of 50% of registered voters for tax increase elections.  (Oppose)

Vehicle and Traffic  Bills

HB 218 (Hill) – this bill establishes complete occupation of the field preemption pertaining to any vehicle equipped with automated driving systems.  No law, rule, or regulation may be enacted by any political

subdivision of the state which regulates such vehicles on the basis of their automated driving characteristics. The bill is retroactive and applies to any existing rules or regulations involving automated driving system vehicles.  (Oppose)

HJR 15 (Messenger) – constitutional amendment to authorize the highways and transportation commission to construct toll roads and impose and collect tolls on interstates and four-lane roadways.SB 111 (Eggel) – prohibits red light and traffic cameras.  (Oppose)

2019 Legislative Priorities

Printable PDF Legislative Priorities


2019 Legislative Priorities


Failure to Appear – Senate Bill 5 passed in 2015 prohibits municipal courts from imposing penalties on defendants who fail to appear in court (RSMO 479.360(6)).  Restoration of the authority of municipal courts to induce compliance with bench warrants for the failure to appear is essential to an effective municipal court system.

The League support legislation to provide a mechanism for enforcement of failure to appear.

Statewide Vote on Local Issues – Legislation has been discussed to place on the statewide ballot a constitutional amendment to change the government structure of the city-county and municipalities.  Residents of other parts of the state do not understand the issues here and have no stake in the outcome, just as St. Louis County residents do not seek to vote on issues in Kansas City, Springfield or other parts of the state.

The League supports local autonomy and opposes legislation authorizing statewide votes on local issues pertaining to individual or limited political subdivisions which would threaten neighborhood stability.

Collection of Internet Sales Tax – The League urges the Missouri General Assembly to require that all sales and use tax taxes on sales of tangible property be treated fairly and equitably, whether the sale takes place over the counter, by phone, by mail order, by internet or by any other electronic means.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed a 1992 ruling (Quill Corp. v. North Dakota) that held sellers only had to collect a state’s sales taxes if they had a physical presence in the state. The Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair ruled that a state may require online sellers to collect state and local sales taxes when the seller does not have a physical presence in the state.

The League urges the Missouri General Assembly to enact legislation that allows local and state sales/use taxes to be charged on purchases made from out-of-state sellers, even if the seller does not have a physical presence in the state.

Further, the League supports the simplification of the sales/use tax statutes to make it easier for out-of-state businesses to remit state and municipal sales/uses taxes. Any simplification of the sales/use tax statutes shall hold municipalities harmless from revenue reductions until the Missouri General Assembly requires out-of-state businesses to collect and remit state and local sales/use taxes on purchases sold into the state.

Missouri Government Expenditure Database – Legislation was proposed in 2018 (HB 2442) which would require all municipalities to provide to the State Treasurer’s office on a monthly basis, a list of all expenditures for posting on the Treasurer’s website.  This requirement only applies to municipalities and would not be mandated on any other level of local government.  A voluntary system applying to all governments is available in Ohio and provides valuable information to the public.

The League supports efforts to establish a local government expenditure database but only if it applies to all governments and participation is voluntary.

High-Speed Internet Overlay District – Several cities across the country have begun the process to install high speed internet services for residents and businesses in an effort to boost economic development.  In Missouri, Kansas City and Columbia have done so with great success.  A collaborative multi-county overlay district would streamline the approval process, lower construction costs and greatly reduce the time needed to install the system. 

The League supports enabling legislation to establish a High-Speed Internet District for St. Louis County, Jefferson County, St. Charles County and the City of St. Louis.  The District governing body would oversee the installation, system management, collection and distribution of fees for an inclusive high-speed fiber network.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. More than three out of five drug overdose deaths involve an opioid.  Overdose deaths from opioids, including prescription opioids and heroin, have more than quadrupled since 1999.  Overdoses involving opioids killed more than 28,000 people in 2014.  At least 1,066 people died of drug overdoses in Missouri in 2015.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs) are government-run electronic databases used to track the prescribing and dispensing of controlled prescription drugs to patients. They are designed to monitor this information for suspected abuse or diversion (i.e., channeling drugs into illegal use), and can give a prescriber or pharmacist critical information regarding a patient’s controlled substance prescription history. This information can help prescribers and pharmacists identify patients at high-risk who would benefit from early interventions.  PDMPs continue to be among the most promising state-level interventions to improve opioid prescribing, inform clinical practice, and protect patients at risk.

Missouri remains the only state in the country without a PDMP.  Many Missouri municipalities and counties have enacted their own local PDMP.  However, to be truly effective a statewide program is needed.

The League supports legislation that would create a state-wide prescription drug monitoring program that would provide physicians and pharmacists with access to a patient’s controlled substance prescription history.

Missouri Courts A Guide to Municipal Divisions in Cities and Towns

Printable PDF: Municipal Court Guide


Missouri Courts

A Guide to

Municipal Divisions in Cities and Towns


Questions & Answers for

City Officials

 Legal Status of Municipal Divisions

Responsibility and Authority of Judges

Fines, Fees, and Bail Determination

Management of Staff by the Court

Minimum Operating Standards

Courthouse Facilities and Security

Police, Prosecutor, Court Interaction


Working with Municipal Divisions

of the Circuit Court


LEGAL STATUS: The Missouri Constitution mandates that all state courts are part of the judicial branch of state government, and ultimately accountable to the Supreme Court of Missouri. By law, municipal courts are divisions of the circuit court and therefore subject to the direct oversight of the presiding judges of the circuit courts.

JUDGE AUTHORITY: Municipal judges are required to administer their  divisions as independent courts of law. In that role, judges are obligated to monitor and manage the operations, staff, budget, space, records, and    security of the court. They cannot delegate those duties to city officials.

FINES, FEES: Municipal divisions can only collect fines, fees and surcharges for traffic and ordinance violations as permitted by law. For   minor traffic violations, fines and fees cannot exceed $225 per charge. Courts should be entirely and sufficiently funded from general revenue sources apart from fines and fees levied and collected by the court. Under no circumstances should judicial or court performance be measured by or related to revenue generation.

BAIL: Municipal divisions should use a certified risk assessment questionnaire to aid in pretrial release decisions. No one should remain in custody because they are indigent and cannot afford to post bail. Release decisions must be made by a judge within 24 hours of an arrest if the arrest is not the result of a warrant. According to law, if an arrest is the   result of a warrant, the defendant must be brought “as soon as practicable” before the court that issued it.

BUDGETING: The municipal division budget should be developed by the presiding municipal judge and chief court clerk or court administrator and submitted to city management in the same fashion as other major city agencies. The presiding municipal judge should be given the opportunity to formally present the court’s budget to the mayor and city council. The city has the    responsibility to conscientiously fund the court without regard to the fines and fees generated by the court.

The city should provide funding for the court in a manner that allows the presiding municipal judge budgetary discretion similar to the city manager or the chief executive officer of a municipality. This will prevent placing a city official in the role of approving the court’s expenditures.

COURT EMPLOYEES: Full, part-time and temporary court employees are subject to the control of the court. The presiding municipal judge or designee should have exclusive authority to      employ, supervise, discipline or remove court employees under applicable city policies that do not conflict with the independence of the court.

POLICE AND PROSECUTORS’: It is essential that the court function independently from other city justice system agencies, most notably the police department and prosecutor’s office. Therefore, no court employee is allowed to job share, split duties or work for a city agency, office or individual that is directly involved in the city’s justice system other than the court. In small cities where there may not be full-time work for all court employees, court staff may be permitted to also work part-time for a non-justice system city agency (e.g. public works, planning and zoning, parks and recreation, etc.). Prior to allowing such an arrangement, however, the presiding municipal judge should formally approve any such employment in advance and in writing.


More than 73% of all criminal and
traffic cases filed in Missouri State
and local trial courts in FY 2017
were filed in municipal divisions. 
Source: Missouri Office of the State
Courts Administrator (OSCA)


CITY ADMINISTRATION: City authority over the municipal division is  limited since the court, once established, is not part of the city or town administration subject to the supervision of city officials or managers. Rather, it is part of the Judicial Branch of Missouri and required to operate as an impartial, unbiased tribunal. Any actions that interfere or may be  perceived as interfering with the court’s impartial performance of its duties such as improper contact with judges or court staff regarding pending court matters are prohibited.

JUDICIAL PERFORMANCE REVIEW: Where municipal judges are appointed by city officials rather than elected, it is recommended that such appointments and reappointment be based upon merit after a formal, objective review process. During an appointed judge’s contractual term of office, the judge may only be removed with sufficient cause. At the end of a term, an appointed judge may be removed without cause.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST: Clerks of the court, court administrators, and other full-time, part­time, or temporary nonjudicial court employees are governed in their behavior on or off their jobs by a Code of Conduct for  Municipal Division Employees established by the Missouri Supreme Court (Rule 37.04, Appendix B). It prohibits any conduct that could constitute an actual or apparent conflict with the impartial performance of their court   duties.

COURT FACILITIES: The court facility’s exterior and interior design, functionality and signage must clearly convey an appearance that it is a separate and independent branch of government operating under the authority of the Missouri Supreme and Circuit Courts. Court offices should normally be open and available for public business at least 30 hours per week. Where cities are small and sparsely populated, court offices may be permitted more reduced hours of operation upon the formal approval of the presiding circuit court judge of the district in which the municipality is located.

COURT SECURITY: The city is responsible for providing court facilities and other resources to ensure a safe environment for judges, staff and the   public. The presiding municipal judge is duty bound to assess and bring about reasonable and adequate procedures, technology, security staffing and architectur­al features that provide for a safe environment.



Although judges may be appointed by city governments, they are not agents of the city. They are officers of the courts of the State of Missouri. They, and the court staff under their control, are required to operate impartially while maintaining a cooperative relationship with the city. This means municipal divisions are not subject to the supervision of city  management in their judicial and court related duties or activities.


St. Louis County, Missouri

Municipal Division Oversight

Presiding Judge
Hon. Douglas R. Beach
Twenty-First Judicial Circuit
(314) 615-1506

Monitor:  Operations Oversight
Courtney Whiteside
Supreme Court of Missouri
(314) 615-7505

Monitor: Legal Oversight
Professor Karen Tokarz
Washington University Law School, St. Louis

Communications Director
Christine Bertelson
Twenty-First Judicial Circuit
(314) 615-2643