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Holden signs new anti-terrorism laws
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Gov. Bob Holden on Monday signed into law several measures prompted by the Sept. 11 attacks, including tougher penalties for terrorist acts and new abilities to close some records.
Holden signed five bills, including one that creates felonies of terroristic threats and agroterrorism, such as spreading contagious diseases among livestock.
Other provisions create the crime of water contamination, prohibit hazardous waste from being transported through tunnels and allow the State Water Patrol to close waterways during disasters.
The law, which takes effect Aug. 28, also closes government computer system records, credit card numbers and the structural and security records of public buildings. Access also will be restricted to some public utility records.
"With this new law Missouri citizens should be reassured that we can deal with hazards we face in the new century," Holden said in remarks prepared for the bill signing at the state Emergency Operations Center at the Missouri National Guard headquarters.
This greatly enhances the safety of citizens in improving our preparedness for acts of terrorism, he said.
Many provisions of the new law came from recommendations by a state task force on homeland security.
Tim Daniel, Missouri's homeland security adviser, said the legislation is a positive step in preparing the state for a potential terrorist attack.
"This is viable legislation which was acceptable to both parties and it will, indeed, have an impact on our ability to secure the state and Missourians," Daniel said.
$15.4 million grant
Earlier this month, Missouri received an additional $15.4 million from the federal government for its efforts in devising a plan to combat bioterrorism. The release raised Missouri's total to $19.8 million in federal bioterrorism preparedness grants.
Removed from the Missouri legislation before lawmakers passed it were proposed penalties for businesses that raise prices during emergencies -- a provision backed by Holden.
Immediately after the attacks, at least 48 Missouri service stations raised motor fuel prices above $2.49 a gallon.
The state collected more than $49,700 in fines and another $10,250 in legal fees.
Another bill signed into law Monday designates Sept. 11 as Emergency Services Day in honor of those killed in the terrorist attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.
Emergency Services Day has been celebrated Nov. 28, but supporters of the bill said no one realizes the day exists because it falls around the Thanksgiving holiday.
"We will honor them on the day of events unparalleled in our nation's history," Holden said.
Holden also signed a bill that would allow the state Office of Administration to provide armed security guards at state-owned and state-leased buildings outside of Jefferson City and Cole County.
"This allows us at the state level to take a step forward to implement the homeland security system," Daniel said.
Private security guards already are at work at the Capitol and nearby state office buildings in Jefferson City.