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Calzone v. Interim Commissioner of the Department of Elementary

Supreme Court of Missouri, En Banc

October 1, 2019


          Appeals From the Circuit Court of Cole County The Honorable Jon E. Beetem, Judge.

          George W. Draper III, Chief Justice.

         Ronald J. Calzone (hereinafter, "Calzone") appeals the circuit court's judgment affirming the constitutional validity of Senate Bill No. 638 (2016) (hereinafter, "SB 638") and Senate Bill No. 665 (2016) (hereinafter, "SB 665").[1] Calzone argues these bills are unconstitutional because they violate article III, section 21 of the Missouri Constitution, which prohibits the legislature from changing the original purpose of a bill during passage, and article III, section 23 of the Missouri Constitution, the single subject requirement. Calzone further argues substantive changes to the bills' titles during the legislative process violate both constitutional provisions. This Court holds: (1) the bills maintained their original purpose throughout the legislative process; (2) the bills did not violate the single subject requirement; and (3) Calzone failed to state a claim for relief regarding his substantive title change claim. The circuit court's judgments are affirmed.[2]

         Factual and Procedural History

         On January 6, 2016, SB 638 was introduced. SB 638's original title was "An act to repeal section 170.011, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof two new sections relating to civics education." During the legislative process, each chamber of the General Assembly adopted or introduced amendments to SB 638, resulting in a conference committee drafting a compromise bill. The compromise bill contained the original legislation to repeal section 170.011 and to enact two new sections related to civics education. The compromise bill also included additional provisions concerning new curriculum offerings; programs to assist students, including those with dyslexia; reports about educational quality assurance; charter school certification and funding; school board governance; statutory bonding requirements for school district officers; and expansion of the A Schools Program to include nonpublic schools and provide nonpublic school students monetary benefits for postsecondary education. SB 638's final title, as enacted, is "An act to repeal [twenty] sections … and to enact in lieu thereof twenty-nine new sections relating to elementary and secondary education, with an effective date for a certain section." SB 638 will result in the expenditure of state funds.

         On January 6, 2016, SB 665 was introduced. SB 665's original title was "An act to repeal section 261.235, RSMo, and to enact in lieu thereof one new section relating to the establishment of a fee structure for sellers electing to use the AgriMissouri trademark associated with Missouri agricultural products." SB 665 underwent amendments during the legislative process, including the repeal of section 261.235 and enactment of a new section regarding the fee structure to use the AgriMissouri trademark. The amendments also contained provisions concerning certain agricultural tax credits and incentives, provisions related to the AgriMissouri and Farm-to-Table programs, and amendments to the statute regulating the petroleum inspection fee used to fund oversight activities by the department of agriculture. SB 665's final title, as enacted, is "An act to repeal [nine] sections … and to enact in lieu thereof ten new sections relating to agriculture." SB 665 will result in the expenditure of state funds.

         Calzone is a Missouri citizen and taxpayer. In May 2017, Calzone, acting pro se, filed two separate, but nearly identical, declaratory judgment actions challenging the constitutional validity of the bills and raising substantially the same counts in each petition.[3] In count I, Calzone alleged the original purpose of the bills were changed by amendments such that, as enacted, the bills violated article III, section 21. In count II, Calzone alleged the final bills violated the single subject requirement of article III, section 23. In count III, Calzone claimed the substantive changes to the bills' titles during the legislative process violated article III, sections 21 and 23 because allowing substantive amendments to the bills' titles defeated the purpose of these constitutional provisions.

         Defendants filed motions to dismiss Calzone's petitions for lack of standing or, alternatively, to obtain judgment on the pleadings on all counts. Calzone filed motions for summary judgment. The circuit court determined Calzone had standing to sue as a Missouri taxpayer impacted by the expenditure of state funds. The circuit court sustained Defendants' motions for judgment on the pleadings on counts I and II, finding the bills as enacted did not violate the constitution's original purpose or single subject requirements. The circuit court sustained Defendants' motions to dismiss count III for failure to state a claim. The circuit court overruled Calzone's summary judgment motions. Calzone appeals both judgments.

         Standard of Review

         When analyzing challenges to the constitutional validity of statutes, this Court is guided by well-established standards. "Constitutional challenges to a statute are reviewed de novo." St. Louis Cty. v. Prestige Travel, Inc., 344 S.W.3d 708, 712 (Mo. banc 2011) (quoting Rentschler v. Nixon, 311 S.W.3d 783, 786 (Mo. banc 2010)). Constitutional attacks based upon the procedural limitations contained in article III, sections 21 and 23 are not favored. Stroh Brewery Co. v. State, 954 S.W.2d 323, 326 (Mo. banc 1997). "A statute is presumed valid and will not be held unconstitutional unless it clearly contravenes a constitutional provision." Coop. Home Care, Inc. v. City of St. Louis, 514 S.W.3d 571, 578 (Mo. banc 2017) (quoting Rentschler, 311 S.W.3d at 786). Calzone bears the burden of establishing the bills are unconstitutional. C.C. Dillon Co. v. City of Eureka, 12 S.W.3d 322, 327 (Mo. banc 2000).


         Calzone implores this Court to clarify the differences between the constitutional limitations contained in article III, sections 21 and 23. Article III, section 21 provides, "[N]o bill shall be so amended in its passage through either house as to change its original purpose." Article III, section 23 provides, "No bill shall contain more than one subject which shall be clearly expressed in its title …." Calzone maintains "purpose" and "subject" as used in these article III provisions are "virtually interchangeable" and require the same analysis.

         Calzone's confusion is understandable, given that both sections have been recognized as ways of preventing the legislature from employing tactics that mislead fellow legislators or the public regarding the purpose, subject, or effect of the proposed legislation. See State v. Ludwig, 322 S.W.2d 841, 847 (Mo. banc 1959) (explaining the original purpose and single subject requirements were designed to prevent enactment of legislation that may deceive legislators or the public regarding its effect); Fust v. Attorney Gen. for the State of Mo., 947 S.W.2d 424, 429 (Mo. banc 1997) (stating, "The 'clear title' provision, like the 'single subject' restriction, was designed to prevent fraudulent, misleading, and improper legislation …."); St. Louis Health Care Network v. State, 968 S.W.2d 145, 147 (Mo. banc 1998) (stating the purpose of the clear title requirement "is to keep individual members of the legislature and the public fairly apprised of the subject matter of pending laws").

         Compounding Calzone's confusion is the sometimes interchangeable terminology and intertwined legal analysis concerning original purpose, single subject, and clear title in prior cases. See Hammerschmidt v. Boone Cty., 877 S.W.2d 98, 101 n.2 (Mo. banc 1994) (stating, "In considering challenges under section 23, this Court has sometimes combined the two limitations for analytical purposes," and citing examples); St. Louis Health Care Network, 968 S.W.2d at 148-49 (applying a single subject analysis to determine a violation of the clear title requirement); Home Builders Ass'n of Greater St. Louis v. State, 75 S.W.3d 267, 270 n.1 (Mo. banc 2002) (analogizing single subject cases with a clear title challenge and recognizing this Court's discussion of the single subject requirement was "helpful" in analyzing a clear title violation, despite their distinctions); Trout v. State, 231 S.W.3d 140, 146 (Mo. banc 2007) (finding "single subject analysis is similar to original purpose analysis"); and Coop. Home Care, 514 S.W.3d at 580 (recognizing a single subject challenge must determine a bill's "general core purpose," but then repeatedly discussing how the bill's original purpose was connected to, related to, or germane to the bill as passed).[4]

         Despite interchangeable language, these two constitutional provisions contain three distinct requirements. See Hammerschmidt, 877 S.W.2d at 101 n.2 (explaining "[article III, ] section 23 contains two, separate procedural limitations on the legislature"-single subject and clear title); Drury v. City of Cape Girardeau, 66 S.W.3d 733, 738 (Mo. banc 2002) (recognizing article III, section 23's two provisions serve a similar purpose but focus on different elements); Am. Eagle Waste Indus., LLC v. St. Louis Cty., 379 S.W.3d 813, 825 (Mo. banc 2012) (stating article III, section 23 "limits the legislature in two distinct but related ways"). Moreover, "[t]he mere fact that two subjects in a bill can be reconciled as part of a broader subject, and thus satisfy original purpose or single subject challenges, does not, in itself, mean that the broader subject has been clearly expressed in the title of a bill." Nat'l Solid Waste Mgmt. Ass'n v. Dir. of Dep't of Nat. Res., 964 S.W.2d 818, 821 (Mo. banc 1988). This opinion endeavors to provide clearer delineations among these constitutional limitations.

         Article III, Section 21 - Original Purpose

         Calzone argues both bills violate article III, section 21, which prevents a bill from being so amended during the legislative process that it changes the bill's original purpose. The framers of the 1875 Constitution stated the policy behind enacting the first original purpose provision found in article IV, section 25 was "[t]o afford security against hasty legislation and guard against the possibility of bills becoming laws, which have not been fairly and considerately passed upon, wholesome restrictions are thrown around the law makers and greater particularity required in the enactment of laws than heretofore." Allied Mut. Ins. Co. v. Bell, 185 S.W.2d 4, 8 (Mo. 1945) (quoting Address to Accompany the Constitution, Vol. II, Journal Missouri Constitutional Convention of 1875, 878 (Loeb-Shoemaker 1920)). Article III, section 21 "is designed to prevent 'the enactment of amendatory statutes in terms so blind that legislators … [would be] deceived in regard to their effects, and the public, from difficulty in making the necessary examination and comparison, [would fail] to become apprised of the changes made in the law.'" Ludwig, 322 S.W.2d at 847 (quoting 1 Thomas M. Cooley, Constitutional Limitations 314 (1927)).

         Article III, section 21 "was not designed to inhibit the normal legislative processes in which bills are combined and additions necessary to comply with the legislative intent are made." Blue Cross Hosp. Serv. Inc. of Mo. v. Frappier, 681 S.W.2d 925, 929 (Mo. banc 1984) (vacated on other grounds by Blue Cross Hosp. Serv. Inc. of Mo. v. Frappier, 472 U.S. 1041 (1985)); Stroh Brewery, 954 S.W.2d at 326. "Were this otherwise … the process of legislation would be seriously hampered and embarrassed by every amendment which might be offered, however germane it might be to the idea as formulated in the first draft of the bill." State ex rel. McCaffery v. Mason, 55 S.W. 636, 640 (Mo. banc 1900). "This Court liberally interprets the procedural limitation of original purpose." Mo. State Med. Ass'n v. Mo. Dep't of Health, 39 S.W.3d 837, 840 (Mo. banc 2001). "[T]his Court has consistently rejected 'original purpose' challenges during the … history of this constitutional prohibition" in cases in which the content of the introduced bill remained substantially intact throughout the legislative process as germane amendments were added. Id. ...

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