Missouri Senate begins criminal code debate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri Senate began work this week on an overhaul of the state's criminal code, but obstacles still remain to get the bill across the finish line.

The bill's backers are confident a measure can pass this year, but acknowledge the legislation's 1,100-page size has made it difficult for lawmakers to support.

House and Senate bill sponsors also disagree on whether the measure should reduce penalties for some drug crimes. Under the Senate version, first-time marijuana possession offenders would not be eligible for a prison term. But the House sponsor wants to leave the current penalty of up to a year in jail on the table.

Senators also expressed frustration that Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon has not weighed in on the bill and are worried he would veto the legislation.

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