Local Control

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Springfield, and House Speaker Todd Richardson talk during the veto session.
Tim Bomel | Missouri House

After hours of Senate debate, the Missouri General Assembly ended its annual veto session by barring local communities from increasing their minimum wage or banning plastic bags.

Legislators also have overridden Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of a bill that would restrict Missouri’s A+ scholarship program to U.S. citizens and immigrants with permanent-residency status. 

House Minority Leader Jake Hummel, D-St. Louis, and Rep. John Rizzo, D-Kansas City, meet the press after the House adjourned for the year in May. Both men voted to dissolve foreclosure mediation ordinances in 2013.
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

Republicans aren’t often compared to Russian communists. But that’s what happened recently after GOP members of the Missouri House helped pass legislation pre-empting cities from banning plastic bags, raising minimum wages or requiring certain work benefits. House Minority Leader Jake Hummel accused his Republican colleagues in a statement of believing that “Soviet-style central state planning is superior to local control.”

St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson (L) and St. Louis Circut Attorney Jennifer Joyce look on as St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson talks to reporters about the city's "no refusal" policy with drunk drivers. Prosecutors will now seek warrants to draw bloo
Bill Greenblatt/UPI

The end of state control of the St. Louis Police Department was literally centuries in the making. But St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson said the change hasn’t been obvious to city residents. 

  

And that, he said, is a good thing.

“Local control has been a significant step for the metropolitan police department,” Dotson said. “And really, you haven’t noticed anything. It’s been seamless and transparent like it was supposed to be.”

As previously reported by St. Louis Public Radio, management of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department officially returned to the purview of the City of St. Louis on Saturday.  After the at times contentious process to regain control, and a 152 year run under state management, the city can now look ahead to the impact local control will have on St. Louis.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The new chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department says he wants to implement a civilian review board in the city of St. Louis.

Sam Dotson officially took over as chief on Tuesday. The former operations director for Mayor Francis Slay replaces Dan Isom, who retired.

(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

The process of turning control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department over to City Hall begins today.

Ald. Craig Schmid, the chair of the public safety committee at the Board of Aldermen, will introduce the bill in which the city accepts "responsibility, ownership and liability as the successor-in-interest for contractual obligations, indebtedness and other lawful obligations of the Board of Police Commissioners."

(St. Louis Public Radio)

St. Louis is one of the few cities in the U.S. that does not control its own police department.

On Tuesday, Missouri voters will decide whether the city should regain oversight of its police force for the first time in 151 years.

But as St. Louis Public Radio’s Maria Altman reports there’s disagreement over Proposition A within the city.

Anything but simple

The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is right across the street from City Hall.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

In the first of four discussions as part of our town hall meeting about statewide ballot issues we take a look at Proposition A, concerning local control of the City of St. Louis police department.

Host Don Marsh talks with Jeff Rainford, Mayor Francis Slay’s Chief of Staff for the City of St. Louis, and John Chasnoff, Program Director for the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.  Rainford supports Proposition A while Chasnoff opposes it.

Official Ballot Title: (source: Missouri Secretary of State website)

Shall Missouri law be amended to:

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Activists say it’s a tricky maneuver.

Groups including the ACLU and NAACP have long supported local control of police.  But Chair of the Organization for Black Struggle, Montague Simmons, says Proposition A would undercut transparency and citizen oversight.

“The banner head that they’re using for local control, we built credibility for,” Simmons says.  “People understand it and they identify directly with citizen review.  They identify it with accountability and transparency.  Absent that, people will be buying in to something they can’t live with.”

Activist Groups Rally Against Local Control

Sep 27, 2012
St. Louis Public Radio | File Photo

Proposition A, the state ballot measure to hand control of the St. Louis Police Department back to the city has come under fire from local activists.

A coalition of groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and NAACP is urging Missouri voters not to vote for Prop A on the grounds that language establishing a citizen oversight board and open access to police records has been stricken from the bill.   

Montague Simmons is a spokesman for the group.  He says they support local control, but not at the expense of accountability.

St. Louis Public Radio

A ballot measure that would return oversight of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department back to city officials picked up endorsements from lawmakers across Missouri today.

The 40 or so new endorsements bring the total number of legislators on board with the effort to 87. More than two-thirds of them are Republicans. (See all the elected officials who support the measure here).

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

A Missouri appeals court has ruled that language used to summarize a ballot proposal giving St. Louis city  control of its police department is fair.

(via Flickr/jennlynndesign)

Missouri voters will be asked in November to raise the state's tobacco tax and let St. Louis run its own police department.

Secretary of State Robin Carnahan announced Tuesday that supporters of those proposals had submitted enough signatures from voters to put the questions on the statewide ballot.

Two other initiatives failed to make the ballot. One would raise Missouri's minimum wage, while the other would place new restrictions on payday loans.

Proponents of those measures immediately said they would challenge their exclusions in court.

(via Flickr/IndofunkSatish)

Tests near steam pipe rupture show no asbestos

The St. Louis city health department says tests from buildings around the site of a ruptured steam pipe have come back negative for asbestos.

The 20-inch pipe ruptured last Thursday morning, sending a plume of steam into the downtown air, along with possible asbestos.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri lawmakers last year came the closest they’d ever come to restoring local control over the St. Louis Police Department, which has been under state control since the Civil War.

A bill that would have given control of the department back to the city passed the House, but Senate leaders refused to pass it unless they got their way on tax credit reform, which didn’t happen. This year, the local control battle never got off the ground in Jefferson City. 

St. Louis Public Radio’s Marshall Griffin talked with Mo. state Senator Joseph Keaveny (D, St. Louis) to find out why.

(via Flickr/neil_conway)

Mo. House approves test program that helps children visit moms in prison

Missouri House members are calling for a pilot project to help women in the state's prisons have more contact with their children.

Legislation approved by the House would require the Corrections and Social Services departments to start a two-year test program to provide transportation for children and a caretaker to visit their mothers in prison.

The measure was approved Thursday on a vote of 126-23 and now moves to the Senate.

(St. Louis Public Radio File Photo)

A Missouri judge has upheld a ballot summary for an initiative that would grant St. Louis local control over its police force.

The St. Louis police department currently is overseen by a board consisting of the mayor and four appointees of the governor.

Cole County Circuit Judge Pat Joyce ruled Thursday that the summary prepared by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan's office fairly and impartially describes the measure, which supporters are trying to get on the November ballot.

Both sides of the debate on how St. Louis would handle local control of its police department are digging in their heels over issues of public oversight and transparency.

At a Board of Alderman community forum last night, critics argued that language on a proposed ballot initiative would preclude the department from a civilian review board and restrict public access to disciplinary records. 

John Chasnoff is a program director for the ACLU, which supports local control but is suing to block the initiative.

Joseph Leahy | St. Louis Public Radio | File photo

St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and the St. Louis Police Officers Association are throwing their support behind a voter's initiative proposal that would give St. Louis direct control of its police department.

The Safer Missouri Citizens Coalition is seeking 100,000 signatures by May sixth to put the proposal on this November's ballot. Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, said opponents who argue the bill would limit public oversight and access to records are misleading the public.

UPI/Bill Greenblatt

Some Republicans at odds with Nixon over state's job-creation tax breaks

Some Republican lawmakers are at odds with members of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's administration over whether Missouri's job-creation tax breaks have been a success or failure. During a House committee hearing Monday, figures showed a wide gap between the number of jobs anticipated and those actually created by businesses approved for aid under the Missouri Quality Jobs program. 

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri is challenging language on a ballot initiative that would transfer control of the St. Louis Police Department from the state to the city.

ACLU Regional Program Director John Chasnoff says the initiative's summary, as it would appear on the ballot, fails to explain how the new law would restrict public oversight and access to records.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Supporters of a ballot measure that would turn control of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department back to City Hall have gotten the go-ahead to start work on getting the proposal in front of the voters.

The decision by Secretary of State Robin Carnahan to approve the measure for circulation means local control advocates can start gathering more than 143,000 signatures, which must be collected from multiple districts in the state. They're due on May 6, 2012.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

Missouri lawmakers began pre-filing bills today for next year’s legislative session, which begins January 4th.

One bill was influenced by the deadly Joplin tornado.  If passed, it would allow Missouri residents to deduct up to $5,000 from their state income taxes for building storm shelters on their properties.  It’s sponsored by State Representative Terry Swinger (D, Caruthersville).

(St. Louis Public Radio)

The St. Louis Police Officers Association announced today that the organization and the mayor of the city of St. Louis, Francis Slay, have come to a compromise regarding a local control ballot initiative.

The issue of local control of the St. Louis Police Department, that is, shifting the control of the department from the state of Missouri to the city of St. Louis, was a fixture in this past year's legislative session.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Mayor Francis Slay is fuming over the results of the just-concluded special session.

"Goodbye state legislators. Thanks for (almost) nothing," the mayor tweeted this afternoon, a day after the state Senate adjourned without taking action on a large economic development package and a measure that would end more than 150 years of state oversight of the St. Louis police department.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

The special legislative session called by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) could end as soon as Friday without any legislation being passed.

House and Senate leaders continue to butt heads over what should and should not be included in the wide-ranging tax credit bill, and that includes the compromise version that House leaders announced that they’ve reached with the governor.  Senate President Pro-tem Rob Mayer (R, Dexter) says the chances of reaching a compromise by Friday look very slim.

(Marshall Griffin/St. Louis Public Radio)

 The Missouri House of Representatives today gave both first-round approval AND passage to several pieces of notable legislation, after suspending its rules to allow for both to take place in the same day:

  • Local control of the St. Louis Police Department endorsed

The Missouri House has passed legislation that would end the state's oversight of the St. Louis police department.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

Legislation that would return control of the St. Louis Police Department to the city has easily passed a Missouri House committee.  Also, the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, a long-time foe, is now supporting the bill.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) has officially issued a call for a special legislative session, which will begin at noon on September 6, the day after Labor Day.

Nixon wants lawmakers to take up 11 items during next month’s special session.  As expected, it includes providing tax credits for turning Lambert Airport in St. Louis into an international air cargo hub (the Aerotropolis proposal), and moving the state’s presidential primary from February to March.

Missouri Senate Website

St. Louis city leaders say that returning control of the city's police department should be a priority during any upcoming special session of the General Assembly.

Speaking Wednesday, leaders of the Republican controlled state House and Senate said they didn't see any problem with passing the measure.

But not everyone is on board with that plan.  

St. Louis County Senator Maria Chappelle-Nadal has been a vocal critic of local control in the past and says it should not be part of any special session.

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