Missouri Supreme Court strikes down anti-homelessness law, Covid vaccine mandate


The justices unanimously ruled to strike down the law for violating a section of the Missouri Constitution that prohibits the inclusion of multiple unrelated subjects in legislation.

In this case, the sweeping 64-page bill also relates to city and county administration and bans COVID-19 vaccine requirements for public employees in Missouri.

The judges ruled that the law is "wholly invalid," Judge Paul Wilson wrote in the court decision.

The judges' decision means unhoused people will no longer face up to 15 days in jail and a $500 fine after an initial warning for sleeping on state land without permission, and public workers in Missouri can now Vaccine mandates are allowed for.

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The law, enacted in 2022, also prevented state funding from being used for permanent housing for homeless people, instead directing it to temporary shelters and assistance with substance use and mental health treatment.

In an amicus brief, advocates for the homeless argued that lawmakers "blamed mental health and substance abuse for homelessness, but ignored that the real problem is affordable housing and the bill contained no real mental -Health or substance abuse solutions are not provided."

"And in the process, he tried to justify criminalizing homelessness as a method of improving outcomes for homeless individuals," lawyers for organizations including the National Coalition for the Homeless wrote.

A spokesman for the attorney general's office, which defended the law in court, did not immediately respond to The Associated Press' request for comment Tuesday.

record Data obtained by AP shows increased efforts to clear homeless camps in cities from los angeles Public pressure increased to address what some residents say are dangerous and unsanitary living conditions in New York.

in March, Bulldozers demolished That ends a nearly year-long debate over what to do about what was left of the once-busy homeless encampment along the banks of the Mississippi River and near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The Supreme Court justices ruled against the Missouri law without discussing the potential impact of homeless policy, instead focusing on whether the issue fit under the bill's topic: political subjugation.

Wilson wrote that the connection between homelessness and political subdivisions "is tenuous at best and, in some cases, entirely tenuous."

State lawmakers added the homelessness provision along with 49 other new sections into the law in an effort to pass the bills, which were otherwise far behind in the process to move forward before the deadline of the end of the session in 2022.

The lawmaker who led the homeless provisions has since left office, and so far no other lawmaker has filed a bill to reinstate the policy.

Senator Steven Roberts, a Missouri lawmaker, proposed legislation that would have relaxed homelessness provisions. On Tuesday, he said he was not yet aware of a court decision striking down the law, but would likely withdraw his proposal in response.

Missouri's next legislative session begins in January.

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