A controversial move by the Speaker of the House at the end of the last legislative session might be reviewed during the current legislative session.
Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) offers no apologies for slipping a provision in a Senate bill on the last day of session that makes it easier for villages to incorporate and escape county regulation. Jetton couches it in economic development terms.
"I think I’ve talked about that quite a bit," Jetton told reporters during a news conference, "and the thing I would tell you is that I think anything we can do to promote growth and development in counties all across the state is a positive thing that I support and I am going to continue to support that kind of change."
The change though has angered the Stone County Commission. Lebanon businessman Robert Plaster has taken advantage of the change to petition for incorporation of hundreds of acres of land into the "Village of Table Rock". That would allow Plaster to by-pass the commission, which has blocked the development. It allow the "Village of Table Rock" to operate outside county regulations.
A reporter pressed Jetton on the issue, noting that not only Stone County’s Commission, but other county commissioners have expressed concern about the change.
"Not all counties are saying that, not all county commissioners," stated Jetton. When asked to respond to commissioners who say the change undermines local authority, Jetton replied, "I guess I disagree with them."
Rep. Dennis Wood (R-Kimberling City) has filed HB 1336 that would increase the threshold needed to petition for such incorporation. Jetton promises to assign the bill to committee. Wood takes Jetton at his word and said he looks forward to the debate on the issue.
Wood had singled out Jetton as the legislator who made the last-minute change. Other lawmakers have expressed concerns as well, stating that the change could have an impact well beyond Stone County.