State of St. Louis
2:42 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Stricter Gun Laws? Income Tax Cuts? Leaders Discuss At 'State Of St. Louis'

At the St. Louis Business Journal's "State of St. Louis," one of the panelists remarked that, in the Missouri legislature, the divide is less between Republicans and Democrats and more between rural and urban representation.

But the upcoming legislative session is somewhat remarkable because both leaders in the legislative bodies are from the St. Louis area. House Speaker Tim Jones is from Eureka, and Senate Majority Leader Tom Dempsey from St. Charles will soon be the President Pro Tem.

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay is hoping this will make the state legislature more receptive to the city's needs. And with the city's first homicide of the year, Slay says one of those needs is stricter gun laws.

"I'd like to see the state give Kansas City and St. Louis some authority over gun regulation," Slay said in an interview after the forum. "This isn't about if you're pro-gun or anti-gun, this is about making sure the people in our neighborhoods are safe."

Slay also listed other ideas for regulation -- a federal ban on assault weapons, required background checks before purchasing a gun and stricter enforcement of laws already on the books.

But the likelihood of new gun laws coming from a Missouri legislature with a Republican veto-proof majority is minimal at best.

"We do have a very conservative state that's very pro-gun," Slay admitted.

"I have a lot of members who are very concerned about their Second Amendment rights," Speaker Jones said.

Speaker Tim Jones shakes hands with attendees after the forum.
Credit Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio

When asked specifically about giving Missouri's two major cities control over regulating guns within their region, Jones found the idea to be problematic.

"Giving them (the cities) that freedom then affects the freedom of the individual," Jones said, saying there should be more focus on mental health issues.

But Slay was not the only one outlining his hopes for the state legislature, Jones took the time to outline his plans. Jones told the audience issues that had been "debated to death" in years past could now be pushed through in the legislature that his party now rules.

One of those issues is cutting the income tax. At the forum, Jones praised Kansas' tax system as being a large incentive for businesses. In 2013, Kansas will eliminate business income taxes.

"I don't think we have to an exact quid-pro-quo of what they've done," Jones said, adding that it's yet to be seen if Sunflower State's tax structure is viable in the long-term.

"However, I do believe that some version of a balanced approach (exists) of a tax cutting measure balanced with a re-directing of revenue."

Slay and Jones were both joined on the panel by Steve Ehlmann, St. Charles County Executive and Mark Kern, St. Clair County Chairman.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

  • See more stories on politics and policy from St. Louis Public Radio, the St. Louis Beacon and Nine Network of Public Media at BeyondNovember.org.