State Sen. Jolie Justus spent Monday afternoon at Westminster College, where she outlined a number of her legislative priorities for the upcoming year ranging from restructuring legal code to ensuring fair treatment in Missouri's workforce.
The Democratic senator from Kansas City has spent much of the past year meeting with her new constituents after redistricting due to new census data in 2010 placed her over six rural Mid-Missouri counties, including Callaway. Justus was in Fulton to answer questions and discuss what she would be focusing on for her last year in office.
Criminal code revision was what Justus identified as her top priority - what she described as a noncontroversial update to outdated legislation that had not been comprehensively reworked since 1977 under then-State Sen. Ike Skelton.
"Every year, legislators end up creating a new law, and it must get a new code. Since our last rewrite, so many new laws have been made they ran out of code numbers," Justus said. "Since (the last rewrite) we've put in a hodgepodge of new codes."
Justus said that "we're not making any new laws or decriminalizing anything," and the effort only sought to correct legislative redundancies and simplify code to make it easier for defense attorneys, prosecutors and public defenders to use efficiently.
Justus currently co-chairs the committee reviewing Missouri's criminal code alongside Rep. Stanley Cox, R-Sedalia. A release on the review committee dated Sept. 5, 2012, on Justus' senate.mo.gov page states the committee reviewed "more than 700 sections of state law in search of duplicative and conflicting provisions that need to be repealed or rewritten," and worked closely with prosecutors, public defenders, judges and lawmakers to identify such provisions.