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Special session on crime ends with victories for Missouri governor and Kim Gardner

One priority for Missouri Governor Mike Parson was more authority for the attorney general to prosecute cases in the City of St. Louis

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri lawmakers wrapped up Governor Mike Parson's special session on crime Wednesday.

The governor said on Twitter the session was a success for passing two bills: one repealed the residency requirement for police officers in the City of St. Louis and the other established a witness protection fund.

"By passing HB 46 (St. Louis Police Officer Residency) and HB 66 (Pretrial Witness Protection Fund), we are able to give law enforcement the tools they need to retain officers and protect key witnesses," Parson wrote

But his fellow Republicans did not pass a bill that would have given the attorney general more authority to prosecute murder cases in the City of St. Louis.

READ MORE: Missouri legislature votes to lift residency requirement for public safety workers in St. Louis

That was something Democrats saw as an attack on circuit attorney Kim Gardner, and other prosecutors around the state spoke out against it, too.

With the Gov. Parson running to keep the job he took over after the resignation of his predecessor, Democrats keyed on bills that did not pass to say the session "failed."

“After calling the session and stripping away the ability of St. Louis voters to decide on the November ballot if the residency rule for the city’s police department should stay, Governor Parson decided to attack the first Black woman elected Circuit Attorney in St. Louis, Kim Gardner, and strip away local control once again," said Missouri Democratic Party Acting Chair Clem Smith in an emailed statement. "Parson’s extremist attacks on St. Louis were a bridge too far and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle pushed back," said Smith.

But State Representative Mary Elizabeth Coleman, (R)-Arnold, said the bills that passed were a bi-partisan success considering St. Louis' Democratic Mayor Lyda Krewson lobbied for the residency repeal. 

RELATED: Top bills fail in Missouri governor's special crime session

Lifting of that requirement for city officers and the pretrial witness protection fund were the two most important bills according to those who testified before lawmakers, Coleman said. 

"This is a governor who has done everything in his power to make sure the safety of the citizens is his number one priority," she said. 

As for the "concurrent jurisdiction" to give the attorney general more authority in the city of St. Louis, a spokesman for Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt said in an email, "We appreciate the Governor’s leadership and hard work on this issue and to fight crime across the state, and although we’re disappointed that this provision did not pass, our focus in the Attorney General’s Office remains the same: we will continue to fight for all Missourians, work to curb rising violent crime rates, prosecute the state’s most violent criminals through the Safer Streets Initiative and our Special Prosecution Unit, and keep our communities safe for all.”

5 On Your Side's Christine Byers contributed to this report.

RELATED: Is attorney general's Safer Streets Initiative reducing crime in St. Louis?

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