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Thursday, May 1, 2008


The House Local Government Committee on April 30 finally passed a bill to repeal a controversial village law enacted last year but only after loading the measure with amendments likely to kill it. The village provision enacted in 2007 allows a property owner to dodge local land-use restrictions by incorporating their land as a village without any minimum population requirements or obligation to offer municipal services.

House Speaker Rod Jetton, R-Marble Hill, surreptitiously slipped the provision into a 300-plus-page omnibus local government bill last spring at the behest of Lebanon businessmen Robert Plaster, a friend and political supporter of the speaker. The provision went undetected until the day the law took effect when papers were filed to incorporate land Plaster owns in Stone County. Since then several other landowners around the state have initiated efforts to establish villages.

The Senate passed a repeal measure, SB 765, on Feb. 28, but Jetton stalled the process by not referring it to committee until April 10. State Rep. Vicki Schneider, R-St. Charles and chair of the local government committee, further delayed the acting on the measure for another three weeks.

When the vote finally was taken, Schneider offered a substitute bill that includes provisions to levy local taxes on cellular phone service, new restrictions on liquor licenses and sales, and additional rules on the operation of sexually oriented businesses. Supporters of repealing the village law, which enjoys widespread support, said Schneider’s substitute is a thinly veiled attempt to ensure the bill fails to win final approval.

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