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Lawmakers question bill limiting Missouri municipal fines

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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) _ A proposal to limit Missouri’s municipal court fines is facing some skepticism in the House after breezing through the Senate.

Sen. Eric Schmitt told a House panel Wednesday that cities across the state have abused ordinance fines to extract money from poor residents in order to pad their budgets. The Republican from Glendale has proposed capping those kinds of fines at $200 and limiting how much of those funds can go to city budgets.

But Republicans and Democrats on the committee said they worried about the bill’s unintended consequences.

Rep. Nick Marshall said capping fines could make it harder for prosecutors to reach plea deals, which could back up the court system.

And Rep. Mike Colona said lower fines won’t motivate landlords to tend to dilapidated properties.