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House bill on electronic tracking: where is it now?

Back in March, we wrote a post about HB 1388. For those who did not read the post or hear about this piece of legislation on the news, HB 1388's aim is to bolster everyone's constitutional rights by requiring law enforcement agencies in Missouri to obtain a warrant before activating the GPS tracking systems found on many electronic devices.

A bipartisan measure, HB 1388's goal is to please both law enforcement agencies, who want to utilize technology to prevent crime, and civil rights advocates, who want to make sure citizens are properly protected from police who try to overreach their power.

At the time of our March post, HB 1388 had just been approved by the Missouri House by an overwhelming 134 in favor and just 13 opposed. This allowed the piece of proposed legislation to go onto the Senate where, if passed, it would likely turn from bill into law. It's been nearly 10 months since arriving at the doors of the Senate, begging the question: where is it now?

As some of our more frequent readers know, legislation can take an incredibly long time to work its way through Congress. That's because bills have to go through a series of committees and hearings where legislators are able to vote on its approval or dismissal. For HB 1388, things have been no different.

After receiving committee approval and going through the appropriate public hearing, the bill moved to the Senate's informal calendar. Although the order of the bills at this level do not matter -- any of them can be heard at any time -- HB 1388 must wait here until its current sponsors, Rep Robert Cornejo and Rep Rick Brattin, can get recognition. The bill would then still need to pass the Senate before it could become law.

Even though HB 1388 could sit on the informal calendar for many more months, it's still a bill worth following because it highlights the importance of strengthening our constitutional rights. In far too many cases over the last few decades we have seen situations in which police have used technology to overstep their bounds, violating people's Fourth Amendment rights in the process. With the passage of HB 1388, Missouri can make sure that missteps involving electronic tracking are less likely to occur, further protecting residents and their rights for years to come.

Source: Missouri Digital News, "Legislative Calendar Definitions," Accessed Jan. 22, 2015

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