Commentary ~ Opinion

December 11, 2021

By John Zainea

Do local legislatures have the right under Missouri’s Constitution to write laws, rules, and regulations to impose restrictions, specifically prohibited by the laws passed by the State Legislature?

Lee’s Summit R-VII schools, Jackson County’s Legislature, and Missouri’s Attorney General are embroiled in a very interesting battle, over who has the constitutional right to enact laws, rules, and regulations over mask mandates.

Eric Schmitt, Missouri’s AG, notified St. Louis that their legislated mandate for masks violated the laws passed by the State and the Governor.  The case ended with the AG’s claim sustained and St. Louis had to rescind their elected body’s order for a mask mandate.

Cole County Circuit Court on November 22nd issued a judgment on the Robinson v. Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Service.  The court declared that the regulations under 19 CSR 20.04 sub-paragraphs violated the Missouri Constitution and statutes and therefore were invalid.

In that ruling, the judge stated that it was “…inconsistent with the constitution’s limitation on legislative delegation…”.  This section is possibly what St. Louis and now Jackson County and Lee’s Summit R-VII, interpret to mean, that only an elected legislative authority has the right to issue such mandates.

In the letter from Katy Bergen, Executive Director of Public Relations, to the LSR7 School Community, states that:

  •  Our district indoor mask requirement for elementary school buildings through Dec. 21, 2021 was approved by a Board of Education vote on Nov. 18, 2021. Kansas City, Mo. also has a mask requirement approved by elected officials impacting Summit Pointe through Jan. 1, 2022.
  • Board policies approved by elected officials enforce the district’s responsibility to protect the health of students and employees from the risks of communicable diseases, including adherence to local health guidelines such as quarantines. As of today, those county protocols are still in place.

It is evident that the board of education believes it has the legal right, as an elected body – though narrow in scope – to pass rules counter to the laws of the State of Missouri, and the findings in the Cole County case.

In my opinion, LSR7 and Jackson County will find that the Constitutional authority granted to the State Legislature, will make any rules, regulations, or local laws, unconstitutional.  While this is an interesting argument, this was settled in St. Louis in favor of the State’s AG. 

Do you think our tax dollars are best spent trying to re-arbitrate something that has been fought in very similar ways – and lost – each time in the past few months? Or, are our taxes better spent on teaching our children and grandchildren, to learn to be the independent thinkers needed to face the challenges of tomorrow.