Missouri House Considers Barring Felons From Bail Bond Industry

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It's the final week of the legislative session in Jeff City. This usually means two things: it's the final chance for passage of important and controversial laws related to issues like education (merit-based pay for teachers at St. Louis public schools anyone?), and the time when pet/pork/grandstand projects get pushed through and become law.

Today (like, literally right now) the Missouri House of Representatives is holding a public hearing for a bill that features elements from the best of both of those worlds. 

HB577, sponsored by Brian David Yates and Ron Richard, would prohibit people convicted of a felony or crime involving "moral turpitude" from becoming a licensed bail bondsman in Missouri.

Regular readers of the blog and the dead tree edition probably know by now that Missouri is one of the only states that allows felons to become licensed bondsmen, thanks to a controversial piece of legislation called the "Lee Clause" (Don't worry,there are just one or two of them out there.)

The bill would make a number of changes to the bail industry (all of which are laid out clearly and concisely here, by Angela Park the vigilant blogger behind Missouri Bondsman), but the part of the law that's most pertinent to everyday folks--or at least the ones who deal with bail bondsmen on a regular basis--is this:

The department may cause a complaint to be filed with the administrative hearing commission as provided by chapter 621, RSMo, against any holder of any license required by sections 374.695 to 374.775 or any person who has failed to renew or has surrendered his or her license for any one or any combination of the following causes:... (2) Final adjudication or a plea of guilty or nolo contendere in a criminal prosecution under any state or federal law for a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude. A suspended imposition of sentence is not required to be disclosed for licensing or renewal purposes and shall not serve as a basis for denial of licensure.

This isn't the first time the legislature has proposed such changes (similar language in SB 464 passed the House by a 129-15 margin earlier this year, but was rejected by the Senate). This latest bill is the last hurrah for the near future.

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