The Missouri single subject provision, which requires that each bill enacted by the Missouri Legislature contain a single subject, is one of the great equalizers in backroom politics. Simply put, it is a hurdle that prevents legislators from hijacking the legislative process by attaching an unrelated provision to a proposed bill. This is a practice that many of our Federal legislators find to be a daily occurrence, but one that our state politicians are prevented from doing under the single subject provision of the Missouri Constitution. However, even with the broad prohibition outlined in the single subject provision, for the reasons discussed within this laws summary, the Missouri Supreme Court has decided violations of the provision along a continuum of reasoning. Somewhere in the middle of this continuum, the tipping point, is where many of these cases lay. This continuum analysis comes to the forefront in a recent Missouri Supreme Court case, Rizzo v. State, in which the court straddles the line, and may have mistakenly crossed it. In Rizzo, the Missouri Supreme Court decided that a provision in a bill that could be applied both within the subject of the bill and outside the subject of the bill, must be struck down in total. As decided, the Rizzo decision straddles the tipping point of the single subject provision continuum outlined below. However, because the Missouri Supreme Court did not narrow their question of constitutionality to an "as applied" basis, the entire decision may be overbroad. Nevertheless, before this law summary turns to Rizzo it is helpful to discuss the single subject provision at length and the recent decisions the Missouri Supreme Court has made. This law summary will then attempt to find the bounds of the continuum, but more importantly, it will attempt to find the tipping point.
Alexander R. Knoll,
Tipping Point: Missouri Single Subject Provision,
72 Mo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholarship.law.missouri.edu/mlr/vol72/iss4/14