State Senate passes wide-ranging crime bill

Thursday, May 14, 2009 | 12:22 p.m. CDT

JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri Senate passed a crime bill Wednesday with several amendments targeting cell phones.

The wide-ranging bill now includes a ban on texting while driving and "sexting" in addition to requirements for running for public office.

"Sexting" is when someone sends explicit photos or videos from his or her cell phone. The Senate bill would make make it illegal to involve minors in the practice.

Sen. Ryan McKenna, D-Jefferson County, has passed a similar bill out of the Senate, but it has yet to come up in the House. He said texting behind the wheel is more dangerous than people eating or doing their hair while driving.

"This is an issue that raises far above the other distractions that go on in the car, and I don't know how we rectify those," McKenna said.

Another accepted amendment would partially scrap the statewide law banning convicted felons from becoming public servants. Some senators said that past indiscretions, especially if committed while a person was young, should not bar them from running for office if they later become a productive citizen.

Sen. Tim Green, D-St. Louis County, sponsored the amendment and said that excluding violent crimes, people with some felony convictions should be able to run for office 10 years later.

Green said some minor crimes are still felonies, but people should not be penalized their entire life.

The bill passed 33-1 and now goes to the House for final approval.

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