Rep. Nick Schroer is the latest Missouri lawmaker to call on Gov. Mike Parson to expand the call of the ongoing extraordinary session, this time to address county orders restricting businesses due to rising COVID-19 cases.
“Personal liberty is a central principle found countless times throughout our nation’s founding documents. However, we have witnessed across this nation many government officials ignoring this foundational principle of personal liberty and taking the position they know how to control your life better than you,” Schroer said in a letter to the governor, sent Thursday. “I call on the Missouri legislature to take action now by addressing these county executive mandates which are unconstitutional, unlawful, and wholly un-American.”
— Nick Schroer (@NickBSchroer) November 19, 2020
Schroer referenced the recent St. Louis County ordinances that led to a lawsuit from a coalition of local restaurants and the Missouri Restaurant Association. Among the new guidelines was an order for restaurants and bars to reduce capacity to just 25 percent. Establishments were also relegated to outdoor or curbside service only. The new restrictions, announced last week, took effect Tuesday morning.
Schroer said such ordinances were “tyrannical” and could lead to the permanent closure of small businesses in the community.
Schroer’s letter drew praise on social media from former Speaker Tim Jones and Rep. Tony Lovasco, who voiced his support for adding a provision to “protect the people of Missouri from these out of control shutdowns and mandates.”
St. Charles County, which Schroer represents, remains capped at 50 percent occupancy for restaurants and bars, as does St. Louis City and other surrounding communities.
Parson has advocated for local control over the course of the pandemic, refraining from statewide ordinances in favor of letting communities address the virus themselves.
“People on the local level should have a voice through their county commissioners, through their city councilors, through their mayors,” Parson told reporters Thursday. “I truly believe in local control and will continue to support the decisions they make.”
Parson’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The state released a new set of guidelines for communities Thursday, outlining recommendations for mitigating the spread of the virus over the coming months without issuing any direct state orders.
The second extraordinary session of 2020 was called to distribute the state’s remaining CARES Act funds before their expiration on Dec. 30 of this year. The House passed the supplemental budget bill last week, sending the budget to the upper chamber for consideration. Parson expanded the call the following day, adding COVID liability protections to the legislature’s agenda after numerous lawmakers urged him to do so.
Senate leadership announced a pause in the extraordinary session Monday in light of positive COVID-19 cases among members and staff, saying they expect to take up its side of the discussion after Thanksgiving.