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Greitens busy signing bills, issuing pardons in final hours of his tenure

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks during a news conference after the end of the 2017 legislative session. Greitens used this opportunity to compare lawmakers to third graders for not passing enough bills.
File photo I Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

While movers were emptying out the executive mansion, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens was busy during his final day in office clearing off his desk.

And that includes signing at least 77 bills into law.

He also issued pardons for five people in prison and commuted the sentences of four others to prison time already served. Pardons wipe the crime off a person’s record, while commuted sentences remain — even though the person is freed.

Greitens’ bill-signings include several measures that curb union rights, and get rid of the bulk of the merit system for state government employees.

The outgoing governor also signed bills to reduce restrictions on hair braiding, legalize the production of industrial hemp and impose stricter limits on the state's historic tax credit program.

And he signed into law a measure that makes it illegal for someone to electronically transmit a compromising photo of another person without their consent — an issue at the center of some of his legal troubles that eventually helped force him from office.

Twitter users were quick to note the contrast between the bill, which ostensibly outlaws revenge porn, and the governor’s alleged actions.

Sheena Greitens joined her husband when he signed measures aimed at improving the state's foster-care and adoption systems, an issue which she championed.

Greitens also received one piece of good news Friday. A judge is delaying an order that would require him to provide financial details, including donors, regarding the money contributed to his non-profit, known as A New Missouri.

State law does not require the non-profit to make its donors public.

Nine pardons or commutations

Greitens offered a personal statement when he issued his pardons and commutations. It read, in part:

“Their stories each deserve to be told. Today, I want to highlight a few. Jessie McKim is currently serving a life sentence, without the possibility of parole, for a crime he did not commit. He has been behind bars for 20 years. He was convicted of murder, but since then, six experts have concluded that the cause of death identified at the time was completely wrong ... . We cannot undo what has been done. We cannot give him back that time. What we can do, is give him a chance to start again.

“There are also cases of injustice. Alvis Williams was convicted of burglary — stealing a Sony Walkman, VCR, and other electronics — and sentenced to 80 years in prison for a burglary. He has already served 23 years. The prosecutor hoped, at most, to send him away for 20 years ...

“I pardoned Stacey Lannert today. She served 18 years in prison for killing her father — a father who abused and raped her constantly for years, and kept her silent under threat of death. When Stacey — still a teenager — discovered her father raping her younger sister, she grabbed her father’s gun and shot him dead.

“Since that day, Stacey has committed her life to serving others. Her sentence was commuted in 2009. She is a public defender. She has been an incredible resource to our team as we have worked in office to determine other Missourians who may deserve grace. She didn’t ask us for a pardon before we decided to issue one, but there is no one more deserving.”

Other pardons or commutations included:

  • Rodney Lincoln – sentence commuted to time served

Greitens said Lincoln “was wrongly convicted of capital murder and has served 34 years in prison for a crime he did not commit.”

  • Verdia Miller — sentence commuted to time served

She has served 35 years of a 50-year sentence for a murder that she did not commit or participate in, the governor said.

  • Judy Henderson — pardoned

Greitens earlier had commuted her sentence of life in prison for her role in a robbery-turned-murder. Greitens noted that “her boyfriend — the man who committed the robbery, killed someone, and shot Henderson herself in the process — went free.”

  • Mark Whittle — pardoned

Whittle completed probation for a DWI offense in 1996.

  • Gary Thomas — pardoned

Thomas is a former Marine whose only brush with the law is a fistfight in 2008. His record since then has been flawless.

  • Betty Coleman pardoned

Coleman’s sentence was commuted in 2004 by then-Gov. Bob Holden. She served 27 years in prison because her abusive boyfriend murdered someone. Greitens said, “She unknowingly and inadvertently played a role in the incident.”
Saint Louis University’s legal clinic noted that its lawyers had represented Henderson and Miller in the effort to get their sentences dropped.

Secretary of State releases resignation letter

Greitens officially left office at 5 p.m. today, after facing possible impeachment and ongoing legal issues surrounding his personal behavior and campaign money-raising.

His brief resignation letter was distributed to reporters shortly after 4:30 p.m. by the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

Greitens is being replaced by Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, who was to be sworn in at 5:30 p.m.

Greitens acted last week — before announcing his decision to resign — to approve the joint legislative resolution that moves a referendum on the state’s right-to-work law to the August ballot.

Labor backers had intended for the vote to be on the November ballot. The law is in limbo until the referendum is held.

A list of bills that Greitens signed Friday, as tallied by his staff:

HB 1250: Establishes the Missouri Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, which allows fiduciaries to access electronic records of the account holder

HB 1252: Changes the law regarding low-dose mammography screening

HB 1286: Modifies provisions of law relating to the detonation of explosives and actions for private nuisances brought against certain permittees

HB 1355: “Justice Reinvestment Act” Allows retired police officers to return to work when a disaster or emergency has been proclaimed by the governor or there is a national disaster

HB 1364: Modifies provisions relating to hazardous waste fees paid to the Missouri Emergency Response Commission

HB 1413: Requires authorization for certain labor unions to use dues and fees to make political contributions and requires consent for withholding earnings from paychecks

HB 1428: Allows the county commission of noncharter counties to appoint persons to vacated county elected offices.

HB 1446: Modifies provisions relating to non-election successions in certain political subdivisions

HB 1461: Modifies provisions relating to the Address Confidentiality Program

HB 1465: Modifies various provisions relating to degree offerings at public institutions of higher education

HB 1469: Modifies provisions of the Missouri military code by changing the name of the "Missouri reserve military force" to the "Missouri state defense force"

HB 1484: Changes the laws regarding the requirements for the operation of a bingo game

HB 1492: Changes the law regarding the Show-Me Heroes program

HB 1500: Modifies provisions relating to the practice of cosmetology and barbering

HB 1503: Establishes a fund for providing state-guaranteed small business loans to veterans.

HB 1504: Requires certain counties to adopt ordinances regulating land use around National Guard training centers.

HB 1531: Modifies provisions relating to civil proceedings

HB 1558: Creates the offense of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images

HB 1617: Modifies provisions relating to telehealth

HB 1625: Establishes the Missouri Senior Farmers' Market Nutrition Program to provide low-income seniors with fresh, Missouri-grown produce

HB 1635: Modifies mandated reporting requirements for sexual assault victims in long-term care facilities

HB 1646: Modifies provisions relating to landowners' obligation to control brush adjacent to county roads

HB 1665: Establishes a visiting scholars certificate of license to teach

HB 1690: Modifies provision of the Missouri life and health insurance guarantee act.

HB 1719: Modifies provisions relating to professional registration

HB 1744: Modifies the A+ Schools Program by removing the requirement that the student's attendance of public high school occur in the three years immediately prior to graduation

HB 1769: Establishes the offense of filing false documents

HB 1797: Establishes the Nuclear Power Plant Security Guard Act

HB 1809: Changes the laws regarding the Bi-state Metropolitan Development District compact by adding Franklin County

HB 1832: Changes merchandising practices and credit user protection law and creates the offenses of defacing a credit card reader and illegal use of a card scanner

HB 1838: Authorizes the conveyance of certain state property

HB 1858: Requires the Department of Revenue to feature a map of all special taxing districts on its website

HB 1872: Establishes a grant program for the installation of broadband internet service

HB 1879: Changes the laws regarding financial transactions by public entities

HB 1880: Declares the intent of the general assembly to facilitate and encourage development of fiber optic infrastructure by rural electric cooperatives

HB 1887: Prohibits a property owners' association from preventing a property owner from placing political signs on his or her property

HB 1991: Modifies provisions relating to wireless facilities and related infrastructure

HB 2034: Modifies provisions relating to industrial hemp

HB 2116: Exempts certain types of vessels from provisions prohibiting passengers from riding in certain areas of a motorboat

HB 2171: Modifies provisions relating to the blind pension fund

HB 2280: Expands MO HealthNet benefits for pregnant women to provide substance abuse treatment for up to one year after giving birth

HB 2330: Designates a portion of State Highway 30 in St. Louis County as the "Officer Blake Snyder Memorial Highway"

HB 2347: Designates a portion of Interstate 44 in Greene County as the "Captain Aaron J Eidem Memorial Highway".

SB 564: Modifies provisions relating to public utilities

SB 573: Allows an income tax deduction for certain military personnel

SB 590: Modifies the Historic Preservation Tax Credit

SB 598: Requires that the Department of Transportation utility corridor be 12 feet wide with the location determined by the State Highways and Transportation Commission and modifies provisions relating to the public service commission.

SB 603: Modifies provisions relating to virtual education

SB 623: Changes the laws regarding foreclosure proceeds

SB 627: Modifies provisions relating to agriculture

SB 629: Modifies provisions relating to tax increment financing

SB 660: Modifies provisions relating to mental health

SB 683: Modifies provisions relating to the transportation of construction cranes

SB 705: Modifies provisions relating to rate adjustments outside of general rate proceedings for certain public utilities

SB 768: Allows telephone companies to select an alternate method of property tax assessment

SB 775: Extends the sunset on certain health care provider reimbursement allowance taxes and modifies the hospital reimbursement allowance tax

SB 793: Requires children under the age of 18 to be prosecuted for most criminal offenses in juvenile courts unless the child is certified as an adult

SB 800: Modifies provisions relating to juvenile court proceedings

SB 802: Modifies provisions relating to women's and minority business enterprises

SB 806: Modifies provisions relating to guardianship and conservatorship proceedings

SB 814: Modifies provisions relating to driver's licenses for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing

SB 819: Modifies provisions of law relating to foster care case management and criminal background checks

SB 840: Modifies provisions relating to dietitians

SB 843: Modifies the composition, duties or repeals outright certain administrative boards, commissions, and councils

SB 862: Modifies provisions relating to electrical contractors

SB 881: Modifies provisions relating to transportation

SB 882: Modifies provisions of the Missouri Higher Education Savings Program

SB 884: Modifies provisions relating to taxation.

SB 891: Designates the week beginning the second Saturday in October as "Buy Missouri Week"

SB 907: Authorizes the conveyance of a certain state properties

SB 917: Modifies provisions relating to coal ash

SB 981: Modifies provisions relating to methods of self-insurance for workers' compensation

SB 982: Enacts provisions relating to payments for health care services

SB 990: Modifies provisions relating to the attachment of school districts to community college districts

SB 999: Designates certain memorial infrastructure

SB 975: Repeals expired, ineffective, and obsolete statutory provisions

SB 1007: Eliminates most of the merit system for state employees

Follow Jo on Twitter: @jmannies

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.