JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) – A judge struck down Missouri’s new ethics and campaign finance laws, finding they violate speech rights and the state constitution’s prohibition of rolling multiple topics into a single piece of legislation.
Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green invalidated the law, which prohibited shuffling of money among political committees, and required quicker reporting of contributions during the legislative session.
The law also gave the Missouri Ethics Commission more power to launch investigations and created new crimes related to bribery, obstruction of ethics investigations and lobbyists’ failure to report their wining-and-dining expenses for state officials.
The bill, passed on the final day of the 2010 legislative session, began as a simple measure that allowed the Office of Administration to assist statewide officeholders to determine the best and lowest bids on contracts.
It grew to include ethics and a measure giving keys to the Capitol Dome to all lawmakers.
Judge Green ruled the bill violated the state constitution, which requires that legislation address a single subject that is clearly expressed in its title.
He found that the bill’s final title “relating to ethics” did not cover either its original provisions on state contracts or the part providing lawmakers with keys to the Capitol building.
Green struck down every part of the bill except for the original portion about the state contracts.
Attorney General Chris Koster said he will appeal and wants Green’s ruling suspended during the appeal.
“Our suggestion is that people continue to follow the law as it was passed until the judgment becomes final,” Koster spokeswoman Nanci Gonder told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.