JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The owners of a multi-state tobacco store chain have contributed thousands of dollars to Missouri officials and even hired their own lobbyists. But their cause this year is not focused on cigarettes.
Jon Rand and Sharie Keil are backing Missouri legislation that would remove hundreds of people convicted of sex crimes as juveniles from the state's online listing of registered sex offenders. Their cause is intensely personal, because their son is among those whose name, photo and address would come down from law enforcement websites.
Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed the bill earlier this summer. He said it could endanger the public by hiding the whereabouts of violent sex offenders. But the political battle is not over. Missouri lawmakers are to convene next Wednesday to consider overriding the veto.
Governor Jay Nixon spoke at the St. Louis City Police Department, defending his veto of a Missouri House Bill.
The legislation, House Bill 301 would have removed hundreds of criminals who committed sex crimes when they were under the age of 18 from online sex offender registries. The proposal would allow sex offenders to petition the court for removal from the registry. Nixon said the bill is flawed because it does not consider the seriousness of the criminal's offenses.
The legislation would remove around 870 people from the registry.
A man, already on the sex offender registry, is facing charges for allegedly molesting a 10-year old boy.
Douglas Hahn was convicted of sodomizing two girls in St. Louis County in 1992. The new charges stem from allegations that were brought to the attention of the Warren County Sheriff's Department earlier this month. Prosecutors say that Hahn abused the boy in 2002 while the boy's father was living at Hahn's house. .
Hahn is held on a half-million-dollar bond.
For the upcoming year, Gov. Jay Nixon's budget recommends more than $2.6 million for nearly 60 additional positions within the Sex Offender Rehabilitation and Treatment Services program at facilities in Farmington and Fulton.
A state law taking effect in 1999 allows certain sex offenders to be civilly committed as a "sexually violent predator" after completing a criminal sentence. Mental Health Department Director Keith Schafer says the growth has been about 20 people per year.
Schafer says the department regularly has sought and received additional staff in the budget.