On behalf of the Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Thomas Sager, Great Rivers Environmental Law Center filed a Notice of Appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court on May 21, 2019, against the state of Missouri over its passage of Senate Bill 35, which makes the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) jump through more hoops, at taxpayer expense, to acquire land for state parks. The trial court rules against the plaintiffs earlier.
The Missouri Coalition for the Environment and Sager challenge the bill because the way the legislature passed it in 2017 was unconstitutional. The law imposes new requirements on the DNR when it purchases land, requirements not imposed on other state agencies. The bill was passed in retaliation to former Governor Jay Nixon’s establishment of four new state parks. SB 35 forces DNR to provide additional public notice to every public official in the counties in which any part of the land lies, publish notice in newspapers, and hold a public hearing in each county.
“SB 35 is a clear attempt by a legislature steeped in anti-environmentalism to inhibit the Department of Natural Resources in performing its constitutional duties with additional and unnecessary taxpayer expense,” said plaintiff Thomas Sager.
“The legislature can’t pass a misleading law by amending a statute that doesn’t even apply to DNR,” said Henry Robertson, Great Rivers’ attorney for the parties.
“Missourians are proud of our outstanding state parks,” said Ed Smith, Policy Director of MCE. “The legislature is trying to stir up opposition to protecting our wild landscapes. This is not what voters wanted when they renewed the state parks and soils conservation tax with nearly 80% support statewide.”
The plaintiffs are now asking the Missouri Supreme Court to declare SB 35 unconstitutional and void.