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'Activist' sues state over 2014 law

Opposes wide-ranging "Christmas tree' bill June 2, 2015 at 4:00 a.m. | Updated June 2, 2015 at 4:00 a.m.

Acting as his own attorney, Ron Calzone filed the 19-page lawsuit Friday, challenging "the constitutionality of Senate Bill 672 based on procedural and substantive infirmities, including a change to the original purpose, multiple subjects, and provisions that amount to unconstitutional "special laws.'"

In a Sunday night news release, Calzone noted he is not an attorney, but filed the suit "in part to demonstrate that the abuses by the General Assembly are so blatant that even a non-lawyer can succeed in legal challenges against some of their bills."

He called the legislation an "egregious" examples of what's sometimes referred to as a Christmas tree bill, one to which otherwise struggling provisions are tacked on as it becomes apparent the bill is gaining traction and could become law.

In the suit, he noted the challenged law-changes began as a measure involving one section of state law about county prosecutors.

By the time lawmakers rewrote it several times - including 17 amendments adopted by the House - and agreed to a conference committee compromise, the bill had 19 different provisions.

That process, Calzone argued, clearly violated the Missouri Constitution's requirements that "no bill shall be so amended in its passage through either house as to change its original purpose" and that "no bill shall contain more than one subject which shall be clearly expressed in its title."

In the lawsuit, Calzone said: "While the purpose of the introduced version of SB 672 was clear and concise and focused on one subject, the purpose of the finally agreed to and passed version might be best described as "catch all,' and some of what it "caught' is not even consistent with the unconstitutionally vague new purpose of "political subdivisions.'"

Of the 19 law changes contained in the bill, 10 affect specific cities or counties.

Calzone argued at least five of those sections violate another constitutional provision, prohibiting the General Assembly from passing "any local or special law ... where a general law can be made applicable."

Calzone named as defendants in his case Attorney General Chris Koster and the directors of six state departments.

Koster spokeswoman Nanci Gonder declined to comment Monday on Calzone's lawsuit, telling the News Tribune: "We have not been served."

Sen. Mike Parson, R-Bolivar, who sponsored the bill, did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday. But Rep. Caleb Jones, R-Columbia, ushered the legislation though the House and said any changes are made publicly and are "accessible by anybody in the state."

Calzone, who lives in Maries County between Vienna and Dixon, describes himself as "a political activist."

One issue in many lawsuits is whether the person filing the suit has the legal "standing" to sue.

Using language from the Missouri Constitution, Calzone explained in the suit: "The Plaintiff is directly impacted by the unconstitutional passage of (SB) 672 by virtue of his standing as one of the Missouri citizens in whom "all political power is vested in and derived from.'"

He added: "When the government the citizens of Missouri established passes laws which those people must live under without consideration to the limits the people put on their authority to pass such laws, the citizens, including the Plaintiff, are greatly insulted."

And, he wrote, he is "directly impacted ... as a Missouri taxpayer. , since (SB) 672 results in the expenditure of state funds in numerous ways by various state agencies."

The case was assigned to Cole County Circuit Judge Dan Green.

Some information was provided by the Associated Press.

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