SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield nonprofit is pushing back against a Missouri law that was passed last year, part of the law bans sleeping on public land.
The Supreme Court of Missouri heard arguments Wednesday about the law.
Nate Schlueter Eden Village’s Chief Visionary Officer was at the court hearing and said the title of the bill that was passed does not match the contents, which he said violates the state constitution.
“There ended up with a section about criminalizing homelessness and people camping or sleeping on state-owned property and a variety of other things related to homelessness,” Schlueter said. “Which we thought was a violation of the clear title requirements.”
The law makes it illegal for people to sleep in places like public parks, violators could face a class c misdemeanor which is punishable by up to fifteen days in jail, a fine up to $750, or both.
Schlueter said the original bill was different than the law that currently stands.
“This was snuck in, at least to the best of our knowledge, that last week,” Schlueter said. “and so most people had read it and made a decision about a very good bipartisan bill. and then this was slipped in. and so most of our friends and political offices had no clue that they had voted for anything to criminalize homelessness.”
Marie Shayhan lives in Eden Village and she tells me the law is unfair.
“A couple of my friends got fined and they didn’t think that was right because they were homeless, and they slept outside,” Shayhan said. “And I think that’s wrong. I don’t think you should penalize them for trying to be safe.”
Schlueter said they are hoping for a decision from The Supreme Court of Missouri soon, and he is optimistic that it will be in their favor.
“The supreme court thought it was important enough to hear our argument right. and so you never know how these things will go,” Schlueter said. “But it was an amazing experience to fight over something and defend people all the way to the highest court in our state.”