Sen. Ed Emery’s Legislative Report for March 27, 2020

Independence vs. Collectivism

 For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”  The Apostle Paul, writing to his friend Timothy

With daily press briefings and updated Covid-19 case numbers, it seems little else has occupied the press. I trust all of us are paying special attention to the details of hygiene and are being particularly mindful to protect the elderly and those with health conditions from the virus. Nevertheless, with some saying that those of us most threatened make up possibly 5 percent of the population, I believe it is hard to deny that a more targeted response might have stalled the virus without the same devastating impact on families and businesses. Maybe we could have avoided a $2 trillion bailout that may turn out worse than FDR’s. At least his plan involved work. Maybe we could have opted for targeted directives instead of broad orders, many of which either seem to be a violation of jurisdiction or possibly unconstitutional.

One thing I have long questioned is the cost/benefit of HIPPA protections, and I wonder if HIPPA has contributed significantly to the spread of the virus. Accurate Information is critical to limiting the spread of disease, but prohibitions on releasing medical information have worsened the opioid crisis, and are making it harder to be sure that those exposed to the coronavirus can be timely informed. Once again, it seems a government “solution” is producing visible and possibly damaging side effects.

From my perspective, the general population is afraid – either afraid of catching the virus, or of infecting others. The unknown is what is most frightening, and while some may suggest we know very little about the virus, in fact, we are fairly well informed on how the virus acts and who most is at risk of infection. One problem with fear is that it can stimulate irrational behavior. That is why in crises, we are often told “don’t panic.” The principle behind one of Benjamin Franklin’s quotes applies: “Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” With social distancing, limited gatherings to no more than 10 and forced business closings under government threat, it seems as if governments have moved from informing to ordering.

In my opinion, there are two paths our society can take as we navigate these trying times: Either we realize how dependent we have become on government and reject having government direct our lives at the expense of our liberty, or we think ourselves more helpless than ever without government and submit to even more collectivist central planning. I hope we will chose the former path and opt for more effective, rather than more expansive government. It is for times like these that the Constitution and our adherence to it are most important.

God doesn’t give us the spirit of fear, but of love and character, and a sound mind. We can look for those more fearful than ourselves and offer help. For example, we can deliver necessities to those who feel the need to stay home due to age or medical condition. We can pray for our families and communities and for those infected by the virus. We can be mindful to keep ourselves in a way that will minimize health risks to ourselves and others. We can motivate, not out of fear, but out of purpose.

One of Ronald Reagan’s most used quotes was spoken when he was inaugurated as governor: “Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

Finally, Missouri’s attorney general has received calls about scams and price gouging. He has established a Consumer Protection Hotline to report such incidents directly to his office: 1-800-392-8222. You can also report incidents online at

Thank you for reading this legislative report. You can contact my office at (573) 751-2108 if you have any questions. Thank you and we welcome your prayers for the proper application of state government.