JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri Department of Revenue has agreed to a legislative demand to submit their practice of scanning of personal documents of Missourians before giving them driver’s licenses or conceal carry permits to the legislature for approval.
The Department beat at 10-day deadline laid out by leading Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Glendale, by submitting to his demand that they come to the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules and begin the process of promulgating rules to propose to the committee, of which he is the chairman, for its approval.
“I am encouraged that the department has begun the process they should have engaged in before they started this program and I hope they intend on working with us to follow the law and submit to the rule-making process set forth in statute,” Schmitt said. “Right now, they do not have the authority statutorily, or from a rule for what they are doing. I look forward to reviewing their proposed language and how willing they are to follow the legal process. I expect something more formal in writing Monday, but I have noticed up the meeting so that either way everyone can see where we are.”
Schmitt’s office has noticed up a meeting of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules Wednesday, May 1 at 8:30 a.m. in Senate Committee Room two. The agenda states the purpose as “Title 12 Department of Revenue Division 10 Director of Revenue Chapter 24 Driver License Bureau Rules Including, but not limited to, policies and procedures relating to issuance of driver licenses which require promulgation of rules pursuant to Chapter 536 RSMo.”
A source at the Department of Revenue who works directly with Acting Director John Mollenkamp told The Missouri Times under the condition of anonymity “it is not really a material concern so long as legislators are only doing public relations stunts, and when they tried to take it to another level last week they comically defunded the wrong programs, but JCAR is not something that can be ignored.”
“The rulemaking process contains important safeguards for the public. Citizens have a right to comment on rules that will seriously affect them. The department ignored that right,” Schmitt said. “Equally disturbing is that the General Assembly was completely kept in the dark, preventing us from vetting this new policy, a critical part of representing the people’s interests.”
Last month, a Stoddard County resident filed a lawsuit against DOR alleging the department had scanned and collected the citizen’s private information as part of a new policy for renewing or receiving a driver’s license or concealed carry permit.
In response, the Senate launched an investigation into the accusations. Recent developments have shown the Department did not follow the rule-making process in implementing the new policy, a potential violation of state law.
“In recent weeks, we’ve seen a troubling trend of state departments willfully circumventing the law and purposefully deceiving the public and the General Assembly,” Schmitt said. “The Department of Education and Secondary Education has taken it upon itself to decide the distribution of the education formula funds, DOR implemented a policy in direct violation of state law, and now we discovered that the Highway Patrol has twice now given a list of nearly all concealed carry permit holders in Missouri to the federal government, also in violation of Missouri law. This cannot continue.”
Schmitt said he fears the trust of Missourians in their state government is on the line.
“This could fundamentally change how people view our state agencies,” he added. “It is critical we move quickly to address this issue and ensure our departments follow the laws set by the people’s elected officials.”
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