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Lawmakers keep focus on local vote in wake of Better Together withdrawal

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The initiative petition seeking to merge St. Louis City and County may have been scraped, but one lawmaker is pushing ahead with legislation that would limit the vote to those affected.

In a statement, Rep. Dean Plocher said he plans to keep advocating for his proposal which would require a St. Louis City and County merger be approved by a local vote before it could occur. HJR 54 was third-read and passed by the House with a vote of 143-10 Thursday.

“Any decision to merge the city and county should always rest with the communities affected,” said Plocher. “It is imperative that we never allow the fundamental principles of representative democracy and self-rule be put at risk in our state.”

“Whatever the future holds for local governance in St. Louis, city and county residents deserve the right to determine their own destiny,” Rep. LaKeySha Bosley said in a separate statement.

On Monday, Better Together, the group advocating for a St. Louis City and County merger, announced it was withdrawing its statewide initiative petition. The group is looking for a way forward enabling a local vote, the press release states.  

“The most serious of the Better Together plan’s many flaws was it asked Missouri voters to impose a new form of local government on St. Louis City and County against the will of the people who live there,” stated Bosley. “Now that the plan has been withdrawn, those who believe St. Louis consolidation is a worthy goal should work within the existing state constitutional framework to put forth a plan to be decided solely by local voters.”