The Governmental Affairs Section’s mission and objectives are to:
- defend Missouri’s Constitution, statutes, and state agencies, through representing the State of Missouri in a wide variety of legal proceedings;
- protect Missouri’s public safety, vulnerable populations, and natural resources, through initiating enforcement actions against licensed professionals, registered entities, and others that violate their legal obligations and do harm to Missourians; and
- promote local governmental transparency through enforcing Missouri’s Sunshine Law and providing public education and training.
Attorneys in the Section serve as litigation counsel to the State of Missouri and its state agencies, boards, and commissions, as well as provide outside general counsel and advisory services to many of those same bodies. The Section has over 50 state executive, legislative, and judicial clients. Attorneys practice in both state and federal trial and appellate courts, as well as in state administrative tribunals.
The Section’s attorneys are able to engage with a wide variety of matters as appropriate to their skills and experiences. This includes almost any type of legal claim that does not contain a request for monetary damages against the State. The Section’s most common legal areas include constitutional law; statutory interpretation; administrative law; professional licensure discipline against those who do not adhere to state laws and disciplinary rules, including police officers, educators, and real estate agents; election law, campaign finance, and ballot initiatives; Sunshine Law enforcement and education; environmental and natural resources law; government contracts; criminal records expungements; social services and mental health work, including guardianships, abuse and neglect issues, and eligibility for services; and animal welfare and cruelty issues to shut down facilities providing substandard or inhumane conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which government agencies does Governmental Affairs represent?
Governmental Affairs represents various agencies listed under the Division of Professional Registration (such as the Real Estate Commission, Committee of Psychologists, and Board for Architects and Professional Engineers).
Governmental Affairs also represents the Department of Public Safety’s Division of Peace Officer Standards and Training, Department of Mental Health, the Lottery Commission, the Ethics Commission, the Gaming Commission, the Department of Social Services, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the Health Facilities Review Committee, and the Department of Health and Senior Services.
What units exist within Governmental Affairs, and what type of work does each unit do?
Professional Licensing Unit
This unit protects the safety and well-being of citizens by ensuring that professionals such as veterinarians, real estate agents, and peace officers adhere to state laws and disciplinary rules. Section attorneys represent many of the state’s regulatory and licensing agencies. It also represents state agencies such as the Lottery Commission, Ethics Commission, Gaming Commission, Department of Social Services, Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and Department of Health and Senior Services. They also handle important litigation in all levels of federal and state courts and in state administrative hearings.
Agriculture and Environment Unit
The attorneys in the Agriculture and Environment Unit primarily represent the Department of Agriculture and Department of Natural Resources. They also represent and appear in front of a variety of boards and commissions related to our natural resources, such as the Fertilizer Control Board, Clean Water Commission, and Hazardous Waste Management Commission. They handle enforcement actions as well as defend agency decisions in administrative hearings and at all levels of state and federal courts.
Mental Health Unit
The Mental Health Unit serves Missourians, in particular those receiving mental health services and their families, by pursuing disciplinary actions against providers of Department of Mental Health services in cases of alleged abuse and neglect, and against mental health professionals licensed by the Missouri Division of Professional Registration (Psychologists, Social Workers, Professional Counselors, and Marital and Family therapists) in cases of alleged violations of ethics and the professions’ respective practice acts.
The Tobacco Unit enforces Missouri’s tobacco laws along with the Department of Revenue, with special emphasis on the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement and the laws related to it. This Unit also handles any matters or disputes arising between the parties to the Master Settlement Agreement.
In what courts do Governmental Affairs attorneys appear?
They handle litigation in all levels of federal and state courts as well as state administrative hearings including before the Administrative Hearing Commission.
What is the Administrative Hearing Commission?
The Administrative Hearing Commission is a neutral independent, administrative tribunal. Some of its cases are appeals from decisions of other State agencies. Others are cases that an agency or private citizen starts at the Administrative Hearing Commission.
The Administrative Hearing Commission has jurisdiction in more than 100 matters specified by state statutes, including state tax, professional licensing and Medicaid provider issues; Ethics Commission late filing fee assessments; and Highways and Transportation Commission actions relating to railroads and motor carriers. The Administrative Hearing Commission makes decisions under contested case procedure, usually involving a trial-type hearing. All such decisions are subject to review by the courts.
How do I check on the status of a professional license?
You may search a database of professional licensees using the Division of Professional Registration licensee search engine.