Clayton, MO (KTRS) A dozen north county communities are taking legal action against a law aimed at limiting the amount of revenue that a municipality can collect for traffic fines.
The plaintiffs that filed the suit on Thursday are Normandy, Cool Valley, Velda Village Hills, Glen Echo Park, Bel-Ridge, Bel-Nor, Pagedale, Moline Acres, Uplands Park, Vinita Park, Northwoods and Wellston. The suit challenges the consitutionality of the state’s recently enacted Senate Bill 5.
Senator Eric Schmitt, who sponsored the bi-partisan legislation, joined other lawmakers and community leaders during a press conference to respond to this lawsuit. Schmitt called this a lawsuit without merit.
Schmitt added,“The people who have been caught in this system are predominantly African-American and predominantly poor and that’s who I’m fighting for. I’m not fighting for a bureaucrat that is concerned about losing some sort of power that they think they have. I’m fighting for people who have been thrown into these indebtor prisons. I’m fighting for the taxpayers.”
Senator Jamilah Nasheed said this law is needed to change the dynamics in St. Louis County. “If you have to sustain your budget on the backs of poor people, you shouldn’t even be in existence. There should be no reason why you have to sustain your budget based on traffic fines based on warrants and arrests.”
Former St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch had this to say about the communities trying to block this legislation. “They are the ones telling their officers to go out and write tickets. “They are the ones picking municipal judges and trying to extract as much money as they can from the motorists coming through their community.”
Under the law, a St. Louis County municipality can not derive more than 12.5 percent of its general operating revenue from minor traffic cases. Outside of St. Louis County, the limit is 20 percent. The previous limit was 30 percent.