Ensor, v. Director of Revenue, 81605

CourtUnited States State Supreme Court of Missouri
Writing for the CourtPER CURIAM
Citation998 S.W.2d 782
Docket Number81605
Decision Date31 August 1999
PartiesThis slip opinion is subject to revision and may not reflect the final opinion adopted by the Court. Dale Ensor, in his official capacity as Treasurer of Lafayette County, Missouri, Appellant, v. Director of Revenue, Respondent. Case Number: 81605 Supreme Court of Missouri Handdown Date: 0

This slip opinion is subject to revision and may not reflect the final opinion adopted by the Court.

Dale Ensor, in his official capacity as Treasurer of Lafayette County, Missouri, Appellant,
v.
Director of Revenue, Respondent.

Case Number: 81605

Supreme Court of Missouri

Handdown Date: 08/31/99

Appeal From: Circuit Court of Cole County, Hon. Thomas J. Brown III

Counsel for Appellant: Terrence M. Messonnier and William Page Bellamy

Counsel for Respondent: Paul C. Wilson

Opinion Summary:

In 1998, the General Assembly amended section 166.131 to aggregate forfeiture proceeds from around the state into a school building revolving fund for allocation to individual school districts. Formerly, the county treasurer collected the proceeds and deposited them in a county school fund for distribution to the school districts in that county.

The Lafayette County treasurer challenged the new law. The circuit court granted summary judgment in the Director of Revenue's favor, upholding the constitutionality of the statute.

AFFIRMED.

Court en banc holds:

Section 166.131 is constitutional as it relates to the deposit of funds to the school building revolving fund.

Forfeitures--proceeds of property seized by law enforcement--must be "distributed annually to schools of the several counties according to law," under the Missouri Constitution, article IX, section 7. This current constitutional language replaced the language of the 1875 Constitution, including two important changes that must be given effect. The first constitutional change deleted the requirement that forfeitures belong to county school funds. This is consistent with the legislature's constitutional power to provide for public educational funding and with the modern notion that Missouri has a state system of public education, not a federation of county systems.

The second constitutional change added the phrase "according to law," which indicates the current constitutional provision is not self-executing but, rather, subject to the legislature's statutory directive as to how to distribute proceeds. The legislature, in the state aid formula statute, has redirected forfeiture proceeds for many years. The legislature's decision to allocate forfeiture proceeds to a school building revolving fund is within its constitutional prerogative to distribute such proceeds "according to law."

This Court rejects the claim that the phrase "several counties" means each county must maintain a school fund with the proceeds staying in the county in which they originate. The plain and natural meaning of the term the "several counties" means all or more than one of the counties. While no particular school district has any exclusive right to any forfeiture proceeds, these proceeds must be made available generally to the states' schools for educational purposes. After the statutory change, the funds remain dedicated to educating children.

Opinion Author: Michael A. Wolff, Judge

Opinion Vote: AFFIRMED. All concur.

Opinion:

Forfeitures--proceeds of property seized by law enforcement authorities(FN1) -- must be distributed to schools under the Missouri Constitution, article IX, section 7. The issue in this case is whether forfeiture proceeds can be assigned by statute to a statewide school building fund or whether the Constitution only permits a distribution of such proceeds to school districts in counties where the forfeitures occur.

In 1998, the General Assembly amended section 166.131(FN2) to aggregate forfeiture proceeds from around the state into a "school building revolving fund" for allocation to individual school districts. Laws of Mo. 1998, p. 475. Prior to this amendment, section 166.131 provided that proceeds from forfeitures (as well as penalties and fines for breaches of penal laws) were collected by the county treasurer, deposited in the county's school fund, and distributed to...

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2 practice notes
  • Metro. St. Louis Sewer Dist. v. City of Bellefontaine Neighbors, No. SC 94831
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 12, 2016
    ...Aquamsi Land Co. v. Hostetter, 336 Mo. 391, 79 S.W.2d 463, 469 (1934) (internal quotations omitted); see also Ensor v. Dir. of Revenue, 998 S.W.2d 782, 784 n. 6 (Mo. banc 1999) (relying on the debates for the proper context of the language of a constitutional provision in holding a statute ......
  • City of Arnold v. Tourkakis, No. SC 88647.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 18, 2008
    ...eminent domain to only charter cities and counties, the phrase "Laws may be enacted" would be surplusage. See Ensor v. Dir. of Revenue, 998 S.W.2d 782, 784 (Mo. banc 1999) ("Every word in a constitutional provision is assumed to have effect and meaning; their use is not surplusage." (quotin......
2 cases
  • Metro. St. Louis Sewer Dist. v. City of Bellefontaine Neighbors, No. SC 94831
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • January 12, 2016
    ...Aquamsi Land Co. v. Hostetter, 336 Mo. 391, 79 S.W.2d 463, 469 (1934) (internal quotations omitted); see also Ensor v. Dir. of Revenue, 998 S.W.2d 782, 784 n. 6 (Mo. banc 1999) (relying on the debates for the proper context of the language of a constitutional provision in holding a statute ......
  • City of Arnold v. Tourkakis, No. SC 88647.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Missouri
    • March 18, 2008
    ...eminent domain to only charter cities and counties, the phrase "Laws may be enacted" would be surplusage. See Ensor v. Dir. of Revenue, 998 S.W.2d 782, 784 (Mo. banc 1999) ("Every word in a constitutional provision is assumed to have effect and meaning; their use is not surplusage." (quotin......

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