Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Local Control Will Likely Have to Wait, Again

Posted By on Wed, Oct 19, 2011 at 1:00 PM

Special Session in Jeff City is not going according to plan.
  • Special Session in Jeff City is not going according to plan.
Remember the scene in Juice when Bishop, Q, Raheem and Steel rob the corner store?

They had everything all planned out. They timed the police patrols. They brought gloves, masks, and a gun. They knew old man Quiles, the owner, would be alone behind the counter.

At first, everything goes smoothly. Quiles puts his hands up, turns around and closes his eyes. There is no foot traffic outside. Raheem scoops all the money out of the cash register.

Then, just when Q, Raheem and Steel head to the door-- "All right, let's go!" says Raheem-- everything falls apart.

Bishop snaps and shoots Quiles. The crew sprints to an abandoned building and argues about what happened. "You didn't have to shoot him, man!" shouts Raheem. Raheem tries to take the gun away from Bishop. Bishop shoots Raheem. Then he shoots Steel. Then he goes after Q. Then Bishop falls off a high-rise rooftop.

That's pretty much what happened in the Missouri Legislature's special session, which appears immutably deadlocked now.

It all looked so promising a few weeks ago. As the Post-Dispatch's Virginia Young reported this morning, "When Nixon called the Legislature into special session on Sept. 6, legislative leaders predicted they would pass an incentive package within two weeks." Votes, it seemed, were whipped. Detail, it seemed, were agreed upon.

At first everything went according to plan. Amendments to the "Facebook law" and the Missouri Science and Innovation Reinvestment Act (MOSIRA) passed out of the legislature.

Then just when it looked like St. Louis would get Aerotropolis and local police control, everything fell apart.

The Senate and House couldn't agree on tax incentive details of the economic development package, particularly on whether tax credits for low-income housing development and historic preservation should have expiration dates. Then Senate leaders said they wouldn't consider any other bills until the economic development bill passed.

So the local control bill, which had already passed out of the House easily, sat in legislative limbo. And a bill to move the state's presidential primary election from March to February -- which national party leaders were demanding -- died as the Republican National Committee's October 1 deadline to change primary dates passed. So, in order to keep its full delegation for the nomination process, the state is (controversially) trying to switch to a caucus, which could be held in March, rendering the February election officially meaningless.

At this point it looks like disagreements over the economic development package have sunk the whole thing. Technically, legislators have until November 5 to work something out. But the Senate has already gone home. The special session, which has cost taxpayers $221,000 and counting, according to the P-D, is all but done.

Local control will likely be brought up again early in the regular session beginning in January, where it won't be as easily tied to unrelated bills as it has been the last two times around. Or local control could make it onto the state-wide ballot next year if a petition initiative financed by local billionaire Rex Sinquefield is successful. Police union representatives have said that they would prefer local control to be passed through the legislature rather than through a ballot, where they would have less say over the bill's contents.

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