Municipal Court reform bill becomes law

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(KTVI) - Say ‘bye bye’ to excessive fines for minor traffic violations and ordinance violations.

Governor Jay Nixon signed Senate Bill 572 into law which is designed to reform municipal courts statewide.

Missouri State Senator Eric Schmitt championed the legislation to help rebuild trust and accountability in the courts in the wake of the violence in Ferguson.

“You can no longer treat citizens as ATMs, and sadly that's what a lot of these cities were doing,” Senator Schmitt said.

The measure limits the amount of money a city can collect from citizens for minor ordinance offenses.

Under the bill, court fines and fees for certain nuisance, building, and zoning ordinance violations will be capped at $200 for the first offenses and defendants will not be able to be jailed for nonpayment

It also lowers the cap on fines and costs for minor traffic violations.

Missouri State Representative Courtney Allen Curtis argues this new law does nothing to address the true needs of disenfranchised minorities

“The real problems there are lack of economic development opportunities, a lack of jobs and lack of taxes coming into these municipalities to allow them to continue growing, thriving and being a part of a region that's a great part of the country,” Rep. Curtis said.

Last year the legislature enacted SB5 which reduces the amount of revenue municipalities can keep from traffic tickets and fines.