A state senator from St. Louis is optimistic the Missouri Legislature will approve her proposed constitutional amendment involving a possible St. Louis City and County merger by the end of session in May.
If approved, it could lead to St. Louis to become the ninth most populous city in the nation ahead of Dallas, and San Francisco and twice as large as Seattle, Denver, Detroit, Boston and Washington D.C.
Under the bipartisan proposal from State Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, any statewide vote on consolidating St. Louis City and County would have to be approved by a majority of city and county voters before it could happen.
“We do have a problem when it comes to the state, outstate (Missouri), dictating to the city of St. Louis and the county, if we should or shouldn’t merge,” Nasheed says.
Issue is local control
Nasheed calls this an issue of local control, adding that Senate Joint Resolution 22 “is absolutely the most important bill that I have filed this year.”
Her proposed constitutional amendment is the Senate version of a House proposal from State Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis. Representative Bosley’s bill, which also has bipartisan support, has been heard by the House General Laws Committee.
Nasheed presented her bill Wednesday before the Senate Local Government and Elections Committee in Jefferson City.
Essentially, Senator Nasheed’s proposed constitutional amendment would limit votes for county mergers to the counties impacted by the merger.
Nasheed, who serves as the Missouri Senate’s Minority Caucus Whip, tells Capitol reporters that while the St. Louis region does have problems with education and crime, the “Better Together” plan is not the answer.
“But under the current (Better Together) proposal, that proposal is not dealing with education, it doesn’t tell us how we will reduce crime,” says Nasheed.
Meantime, an organization known as the “Municipal League of Metro St. Louis” is backing Senator Nasheed’s proposal. Organization Executive Director Pat Kelly says Nasheed is responding to “Better Together.” He says this is a “democracy issue.”
“If this vote is decided on a statewide basis in November of 2020, it will actually be decided by outstate voters,” Kelly says.
He says if the proposed merger is done with a statewide vote, 77 percent of the votes would come from outside St. Louis City and County.
Senator Nasheed spoke to the Capitol Press Corps during a bipartisan Statehouse news conference on Wednesday. She was joined by State Sen. Karla May, D-St. Louis, Representative Bosley, State Rep. Dottie Bailey, R-Eureka, State Rep. Chris Carter, D-St. Louis, and Mr. Kelly.
Nasheed tells MissouriNet that House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, tells her he’ll do everything he can to help pass the proposed constitutional amendment out of the House.
She also says Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, supports the proposal.
–MissouriNet and Metro Voice