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Local control, Aerotropolis fail in final legislative hours

Legislation that would have returned oversight of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Departmentback to City Hall has failed in Jefferson City.

The measure got tangled up in a House-Senate dispute over reforms to the state's tax credit systems. Legislation that would have created new incentives for a cargo hub at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport also fell victim to that dispute.

House Speaker Steven Tilley(R, Perryville) blasted the Senate minutes after the session ended.

“You guys have seen how dysfunctional the Senate can be, and to put a sunset on a program where one Senator can hold one program hostage is just not good government," Tilley told reporters after the session ended.  "I can tell you, an overwhelming majority of the senators would have approved that language, but they let one or two people put a stop to it.”

And when the tax credit bill died, so, too, did the St. Louis Police local control bill.  Senate leaders had refused to hold a vote on the bill unless the House accepted their tax credit reform package.  President Pro-tem Rob Mayer(R, Dexter) says giving St. Louis control over its police force was never a high priority in the Senate.

“You know, I never counted the votes (on local control), I don't know if it (would have had) enough votes or not," Mayer said afterwards.  "Our priorities here in the Senate were job creation and crafting a budget that was sustainable and balanced and didn’t require any new tax increases.”

The failure of a local control measure means an initiative petition from billionaire Rex Sinquefieldis likely to take center stage. Former House Member Jeff Roorda, now the business manager for the St. Louis Police Officer's Association, says the referendum has none of the protections included in the legislation.

"There's no protection of our pensions, there's no protection of survivor benefits and health insurance. There's no transition of the department," he said.

State Representative Jamilah Nasheed (D, St. Louis), thesponsor of the local control measure, had no comment about its failure.

From Mayor Francis Slay's blog:

"This is a disappointing moment, but not the last moment. The St. Louis delegation did what we were asked to do. ... We stood together.  The legislature did not act. Fortunately, we have another option. We will pursue it with as much energy and vigor as we can."


Marshal was a political reporter for St. Louis Public Radio until 2018.
Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.