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Legislator files bill to allow St. Louis to secede from Missouri

Rep. Mike Colona, a St. Louis Democrat, thinks his hometown should be given permission to secede from Missouri.
Rep. Mike Colona, a St. Louis Democrat, thinks his hometown should be given permission to secede from Missouri. Missouri House Communications

Should the city of St. Louis secede from Missouri?

At least one Democratic lawmaker seems to think so.

Rep. Mike Colona, a St. Louis Democrat, filed two bills Tuesday aimed at allowing St. Louis to leave Missouri and become its own state.

The first puts the question before the Missouri people of whether the city of St. Louis should be allowed to legally secede from the state.

The second is a nonbinding resolution requesting that Congress pass a bill that consents to the division of the city of St. Louis and the rest of Missouri into two separate states and urges the president to sign such bill into law.

The two-bill approach is necessary since the U.S. Constitution says that while only Congress has the ability to authorize the creation of a state, it is prohibited from creating a state from the territory of others without their consent.

Colona, who because of term limits will be out of office at the end of the year, couldn’t be immediately reached for comment.

These pieces of legislation stand no chance of success in the Missouri General Assembly.

They are instead a likely statement of frustration over what leaders in both St. Louis and Kansas City would argue is a continued assault on local control by a rural-dominated legislature.

Two years ago, lawmakers voted to repeal a ban on open carry of guns passed by the Kansas City Council and prohibit any future local restrictions on the practice. Last year, legislation passed a bill to prohibit local governments from raising the minimum wage or outlawing plastic grocery bags.

This year, Republican legislators are pushing for a repeal of the 1 percent earnings tax that both Kansas City and St. Louis rely on for large chunks of their budgets. A bill repealing local regulations on taxis and vehicle-for-hire companies like Uber and Lyft appears to be gaining momentum. And Jackson County officials say a bill aimed at reining in abuses by municipal courts will thwart efforts to deal with creeping blight in the urban core.

But Republican legislators have repeatedly pointed out that the cities are entirely a creation of the state. Therefore, they say, the state has the authority and the responsibility to step in if lawmakers believe local leaders have gone awry.

Either way, St. Louis won’t be America’s 51st state anytime soon (and it won’t be joining Illinois either).

Jason Hancock: 573-634-3565, @J_Hancock

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