Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Fix

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Political Fix

Article excerpt

From our online report on politics and government. STLtoday.com/ politicalfix

Legislature passes more municipal court reform * Round 2 of a push to crack down on the state's much-maligned municipal court system is heading to the governor's desk.

In a proposal that won support Thursday in the Missouri House, cities would be limited in how much they can charge for nuisance violations, such as overgrown yards or dilapidated houses.

The measure, which now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, is a follow-up to last year's push to limit how much cities can generate from traffic stops.

The fixes come in response to the 2014 protests in Ferguson that showed municipalities were largely relying on residents who violate ordinances to finance operations.

A Post-Dispatch analysis last year found, for example, that Pagedale handed out 2,255 citations for these types of offenses in 2014 an average of nearly two per household. That's a nearly 500 percent increase from five years ago.

"We're not going to allow these excessive fees and fines to stay in place," said Rep. Robert Cornejo, R-St. Peters, who sponsored the legislation.

Under the new rules, nuisance violations committed within a 12- month period start at $200 for the first violation and rise to $450 for the fourth and subsequent violations.

The measure also would limit municipal judges from serving in more than five municipalities. Supporters say the change is aimed at attorneys who serve as both judges and as prosecutors in multiple jurisdictions. (Kurt Erickson)

Chesterfield wins more tax money * The Missouri Legislature on Thursday approved Chesterfield's push to retain a bigger share of the sales tax revenue collected within the retail-rich city's boundaries.

But the bill, which now goes to Gov. Jay Nixon, doesn't also include permission for St. Louis County to seek voter approval in unincorporated areas for a new half-cent sales tax to hire new county police officers. The two issues had been teamed previously.

The Chesterfield-related measure, which also benefits some other cities in St. Louis County, was approved 103-39 in the House after it was endorsed by a House-Senate conference committee. …

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