JEFFERSON CITY - The Highway Patrol would be forced to check the citizenship status of sexual offenders under a bill given first-round approval by Missouri's House.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, requires the Highway Patrol to check citizenship status for people on the official sexual offender registry. Under the bill, if the sexual offender is determined to be an illegal immigrant then the Highway Patrol must turn them over to the federal government to begin a deportation process.
Currently, there is no statute in place requiring the state police to check the citizenship status of a sexual offender.
"We are telling the Highway Patrol how to do their job," Parkinson said.
Opponents said the bill is redundant.
Rep. Jean Peters-Baker, D-Kansas City, a former prosecutor, said local law enforcement agencies in Kansas City already determine citizenship status for sexual offenders on the official registry.
"This bill doesn't change anything," Rep. Jeanette Oxford, D-St. Louis City, said.
Minority Whip Rep. Mike Colona, D-St.Louis City, also criticized Republicans for making this bill a priority.
"All this bill is doing is driving home that theme this session that we don't care about creating jobs, raising money, or saving money," Colona said.
Supporters said a vote against the bill would send the wrong message that the legislature does not care about sex crimes. Parkinson's bill does not have a cost attached.
The bill needs one more vote of approval in the House before moving to the Senate.