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Tilley, Mayer open to another legislative effort to pass local control

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 19, 2011 - Missouri House Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, says he's open to making one last try to end state control of the St. Louis police department during his final legislative session.

And state Senate President Pro Tem Rob Mayer, R-Dexter, says he's willing to revisit the issue as well.

In separate interviews, the two legislative leaders discussed various issues that they hope to address in the next legislative session that begins Jan. 4. Both will be leaving after 2012 because of term limits.

Tilley, who recently dropped a 2012 bid for lieutenant governor, volunteered that he remains supportive of the effort to allow St. Louis officials to control the police department, which has been overseen by the state General Assembly and the governor since 1861, the beginning of the civil war.

Tilley got the proposal through the state House twice this year -- during the regular and special sessions -- only to see the bills killed because of an unrelated debate over economic issues. Tilley said he believes a majority of the House still supports the idea.

Mayer said last week that he's not opposed to local control and would be receptive to such a bill coming before the Senate again. Mayer had not pressed for passage during this year's regular and special sessions.  He has said that he wasn't out to block the proposal but simply had other priorities.

Ironically, the legislative leaders' support comes as the St. Louis Police Officers Association says it no longer backs the legislative route -- and prefers an initiative-petition proposal being advanced a group called "A Safer Missouri'' and bankrolled by conservative financier Rex Sinquefield.

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