Local Control Will Likely Have to Wait, Again

Categories: Politics
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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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Aerotropolis was one of the more promising pieces of economic legislation I've seen in years to come before the legislature and now it's dead potentially putting in jeopardy almost 4 years of work involved to make St. Louis a hub for international logistics.  I’m confounded at how short-sighted and petty this special session has been…they even passed a resolution effectively dumping on the state’s 3rd largest employer Boeing Defense!! This state has needed economic development legislation for 4 years.  It needed Aerotropolis and MOSIRA.  We are quickly being passed by other states and passed up by major corporations and new start-ups because we are not thinking globally about the state’s economy and its inherent advantages.  I know of no other state that considering the time, investment, and business case would not have passed Aerotropolis.  Now other states like Illinois, Ohio, and Colorado have realized it’s ours to lose and have introduced “Aerotropolis” projects of their own.  Lambert International not only delivered a contract with a Chinese cargo airline for 2 years but they also landed a Chinese airplane not once, but twice (they flew in again yesterday) and plan to do so every week for the forseeable future.  The entire economic development community statewide was behind this idea including major Missouri corporations like Emerson, Peabody, and Monsanto.  It would have resulted in fundamental changes in behavior among the freight forwarding community and infrastructure investment that would lead to the reutilization and revitalization of and underutilized airport. Considering the caliber of Chinese political and business leadership that expressed interest in the idea I’m worried that Aerotropolis’s failure may cause a loss of face that damages the credibility of this state in all future business dealings with China that may be unrecoverable.  Thanks MO legislature for ensuring that our fastest growing export is a bad reputation.

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