JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has left mask mandates and other restrictions up to the local level. But now he says some people overstepped their boundaries and there needs to be a conversation.
Parson said in a one-on-one interview he’s always been an advocate for local control, but some lawmakers are pushing to take that local control away, accusing officials of being too harsh with restrictions.
“If we find where people did overstep their boundaries, in those positions, and there are ways to fix that,” Parson said in the interview. “Well number one, I do believe in local control, and I’m not going to change that.”
But Parson also said some people abused their power.
“Do I believe that people overstepped their boundaries with some of that?” Parson said. “Yes I do. Do I think we should revisit those issues of how we conduct ourselves and how we do that? Most certainly.”
Earlier this week, some House members voted legislation out of a committee, which would take power away from local governments. Parson agreed the state needs to reconsider local control.
“I think we bring everything back to the table to reevaluate, to see what really happened because there’s no question that people overstepped their boundaries on the local levels, with the health care issues,” Parson said.
Two weeks ago, Wheelhouse and Start Bar in St. Louis were ordered to close for a year for violating COVID restrictions.
“No one, in my opinion, should have the right to shut a business down for a year at a time, to take private people’s rights away from them, to shut businesses down and not reevaluate that at some point,” Parson said.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said there needs to be a conversation.
“You hear from both sides of the aisles saying local control is so important, well it appears to me since I’ve been here that local control is only important to Republicans when it’s the kind they want,” Quade said.
“We need to be having this conversation because it is contradictory to everything that we talk about here. If we’re not going to make decisions and make someone else do it, but then they don’t like them, then that’s just ludicrous.”
She said government needs to make up its mind.
“We can’t continue to buck responsibility from the administration, to the legislature, to the local government and then when they do something, say, ‘Oh no we don’t like that,’ and undo it,” Quade said. “We’ve got to give clear direction to the people of Missouri and give them clear guidance so that folks can move forward and our economy can grow again.”
The legislation is being sponsored by Rep. Jim Murphy (R- St. Louis).
Murphy said House Bill 75 would authorize a public official to order a closure for 15 days. Closures up to 45 days must be authorized by a vote of the local government bodies and closures over 45 days would have to be approved by the Department of Health and Senior Services. Anything over 90 days would require approval from the General Assembly.
Since it passed out of the committee this week, the measure now needs to be approved by the full House.