Sen. Dave Schatz’s Legislative Column for April 16, 2021

Reigning in the Powers of Unelected Bureaucrats

The coronavirus pandemic has affected each of us in ways too numerous to count. No one could have predicted more than a year ago after our state’s first positive case in St. Louis County that we would be where we are today. As a state and a nation, we were facing an unseen threat — a virus that we knew little about. From social distancing and shutdowns to quarantining and new vaccines, a lot has changed over the past year when it comes to the virus. The early days of the pandemic were certainly uneasy, but I believe our state and our country’s leaders did the best they could to address the devastating effects of the virus.

While many of our leaders acted with good intentions, I believe some overstepped their bounds and went too far when it came to imposing restrictions in the name of public health. Many of these orders, imposed by unelected bureaucrats, had devastating effects on restaurants and small businesses throughout our state. Whether it was placing occupancy limits on restaurants or choosing who was allowed to open their doors for business and who was not, the actions of these officials had real-life consequences for the residents of their communities. To make matters worse, many of these officials are allowed to operate with little oversight since they are hired or appointed and not elected by the residents of their community. Their unchecked power became apparent as a number of communities took drastic and unprecedented steps in an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus. From where I stand, this is unacceptable, and I believe something needs to be done to reign in the power of these bureaucrats.

Because of these actions, my colleagues and I have been discussing several measures designed to provide oversight and curb the powers of these officials. A number of these bills are designed to limit the authority of public health boards to shut down businesses, enact occupancy limits on churches and other public places or otherwise restrict the freedom of citizens to live their lives. I am supportive of these measures, and I believe it is imperative that we pass legislation protecting businesses and providing accountability for unelected health officials. At the end of the day, elected officials who are accountable to voters should have the final say on actions affecting local communities — not unelected bureaucrats.

It is an honor to serve our community in the Missouri Senate. If you have any other questions or concerns about state government, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (573) 751-3678 or by email at — we are honored to serve you.