JEFFERSON CITY — The Missouri State Highway Patrol would be checking the citizenship status of sexual offenders under a bill given first-round approval by the state House of Representatives.
The bill sponsored by Rep. Mark Parkinson, R-St. Charles, requires the Highway Patrol to check the citizenship status of 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 the citizenship status of sexual offenders on the official registry.
"This bill doesn't change anything," said Rep. Jeanette Mott Oxford, D-St. Louis.
Minority Whip Rep. Mike Colona, D-St.Louis, 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.