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Special legislative session to address treatment courts

Scott Lauck//September 4, 2018

Special legislative session to address treatment courts

Scott Lauck//September 4, 2018

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has called the Missouri Legislature into special session the week of Sept. 10-14 to pass a bill to help treatment courts.

Parson vetoed the treatment-court bill in July. Although he said such courts “serve a valuable purpose for both our judicial and corrections systems,” he said unrelated provisions added to the bill had caused constitutional problems.

One provision would have restored some retirement benefits to Judge Scott Lipke, an associate circuit judge in Cape Girardeau County and a former state representative. Lipke lost the benefits as part of an overhaul of the state retirement system that lawmakers passed just as he was running for the bench in 2010.

Parson said restoring Lipke’s benefits would have constituted an unconstitutional special law.

The underlying treatment-court bill drew wide bipartisan support. It would have broadened several state statutes to include all treatment courts, rather than just drug courts, which were the first diversionary programs set up in Missouri. The bill also provided definitions of the various types of programs and helped to set standards for their operation.

“Treatment courts are the most successful intervention in our nation’s history for holding accountable people living with substance use and mental health disorders, and leading them out of the justice system into lives of recovery and stability,” 39th Circuit Court Judge Alan Blankenship, the president of Missouri Association of Treatment Court Professionals, said in a statement.

Lawmakers also will consider a bill addressing education in science, technology, engineering and math. The special session will run concurrently with a veto session set to begin Sept. 12.

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