The Senate approved a variety of legislation during this sixth week of session, including one measure that will further safeguard Missourians’ Fourth Amendment right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. Currently, state law prohibits the interception of oral and wire communications without prior authorization from a court. Senate Bill 84 provides similar prohibitions on the use of a cell site simulator device to obtain information from a cell phone, tablet or laptop.
Cell site simulator devices mimic cell phone towers. When in use, they can collect data from communication devices within range. It is already a Class E felony to knowingly intercept a wire communication or oral communication; SB 84 will also make it a Class E felony to knowingly install or use a cell site simulator device in violation of the law to obtain information from a communications device.
Senate Bill 84 recognizes that cell site simulators are an important tool for law enforcement. As such, a judge may, upon receiving an affidavit from a law enforcement officer, issue a warrant for the use of a cell site simulator device for up to 30 days, with the possibility of extensions. Among other provisions, this act further allows for cell site simulators to be used without a warrant when a communications device is reported stolen by the owner or possessor or in certain emergencies, such as a kidnapping or hostage situation.
In August 2014, Missouri voters passed Amendment 9 to add electronic communications and data to the list of what is protected against unreasonable searches and seizures under the Missouri Constitution. As technology continues advancing and our world becomes increasingly interconnected, it is important for our laws to keep pace as much as possible. Senate Bill 84 is simply the logical next step after Amendment 9.
In other legislative news, the Senate has passed legislation that will go a long way toward promoting fairness, consistency and competition within the field of electrical contracting. Senate Bill 240 creates a statewide license for electrical contractors, which shall be issued by the Division of Professional Registration. Under the act, any electrical contractor working in a political subdivision that does not require a license will be exempted from obtaining a license; however any entity who engages in electrical contracting must have at least one statewide licensed electrical contractor employed at a supervisory level. Although political subdivisions may still establish their own local electrical contractor’s licenses, they must recognize a statewide license in lieu of a local license.
An applicant for statewide licensure must be at least 21 years of age, provide proof of liability insurance in the amount of $500,000, pass a standardized and nationally accredited electrical assessment examination and complete a specified number of practical hours. Starting in 2020, statewide licenses shall be renewed once every three years. Finally, any subdivision refusing to comply with this law will have their sales tax income withheld by the state until they come into compliance, and any officer or agent of a corporation, partnership or association who violates the act will be guilty of a Class B misdemeanor. These penalties give SB 240 the teeth it needs to ensure all political subdivisions will follow the law.
Current statute already allows electrical contractors whose licenses meet the same standards as those required in St. Louis County to practice anywhere in the state. However, several municipalities have not been honoring the current law. This has had the unwanted side effect of limiting competition. If signed into law, SB 240 will still allow for local options while maintain high safety standards and making it clear that an electrical contractor who has obtained state licensure has the ability and knowledge to work anywhere in the state.
Finally, my staff and I had the privilege of welcoming a number of visitors to the Capitol this week, including students from Lockwood Immanuel Lutheran School.
On Tuesday, I introduced to the Senate the 2017 Missouri Class 3 State Champion Neosho Wrestling Team, whose members include: Kolton Sanders, Dalton Kivett, Trenton Young, Gannon Millard, Braxton Barnes, Kyle Sanders, Joey Williams, Johnny Meyer, Zachary Plummer, Christian Nutz and Adrian Hitchcock. Congratulations to Neosho on their fifth straight year as state champions.