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Byrd v. Missouri

The Missouri Constitution prohibits any bill from containing “more than one subject,” requires that the subject “be clearly expressed in its title,” and prohibits any bill from being “so amended in its passage through either house as to change its original purpose.”

In June 2022, the Governor of Missouri signed into law House Bill 1606 (H.B. 1606). As originally introduced, HB 1606 was titled an act to “repeal [four sections of the Revised Statutes of Missouri] and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to county financial statements,” and it contained provisions concerning county financial statements. As enacted, HB 1606 is titled an act to “repeal [forty-two sections of the Revised Statutes of Missouri] and to enact in lieu thereof fifty new sections relating to political subdivisions, with a delayed effective date for a certain section and with penalty provisions,” and it primarily contains provisions relating to political subdivisions.

In the course of the legislative process, however, a section was added to HB 1606—section 67.2300—that contains many provisions that do not relate to county financial statements or political subdivisions. Among other things, section 67.2300 imposes restrictions on use of state funds for the homeless, provides certain immunity to campground owners and employees operating a campground using state funds for the homeless, and forbids people from using state-owned land for unauthorized sleeping, camping, or long-term shelters.

In September 2022, Public Citizen, co-counseling with Legal Service of Eastern Missouri, filed suit on behalf of three taxpayers and housing justice advocates to challenge section 67.2300. The petition alleged that by including section 67.2300, HB 1606 violates the Missouri Constitution’s single-subject, clear-title, and original-purpose requirements. In April 2023, the trial court issued a decision upholding the law.

We appealed to the Missouri Supreme Court, which reversed. Agreeing with our argument, the Missouri Supreme Court held that the statute violated the single subject rule and invalidated the statute.