It appears the controversial "village law" will stay on the books.
The House voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to repeal the measure, controversial both for its content and for the method used to get it through the legislature last year. That vote, likely, won’t mean much, because an amendment stayed on the bill that threatens its passage in the Senate.
Rep. Jay Wasson (R-Nixa) led the charge in the House to repeal the law. During lengthy House debate on HCS SCS SB 765 , Wasson made a motion to divide the question. He sought to separate the section repealing the village law from other amendments. Wasson got the vote he wanted on the repeal of the village law, but failed to defeat another measure, despite help from that measure’s sponsor.
Rep. Ed Emery (R-Lamar) was ready to sacrifice his amendment to increase regulations of strip joints so that the village law could be killed.
"A ‘yes’ vote here is a lose all the way around, I’m afraid," Emery told colleagues during House floor debate.
Emery explained that a senator had told both he and Wasson that he would filibuster the bill if it contained the strip club language. With two days left in the session, the mere threat of a filibuster can be fatal.
Despite Emery’s call to defeat his own measure, too many lawmakers found it too hard to vote against strip club regulations. That portion passed and remains on the bill.
Wasson of Nixa says that likely kills the legislation, "It’s not 100% dead. I would say it’s awfully close. It’s say it’s on a respirator right now."
Sen. Jack Goodman (R-Mt. Vernon), the original sponsor of the village law repeal, now has been handed a bill he didn’t want with two days left in the session to salvage something.
"I’m not ready to say ‘die’ yet," Goodman said, adding that he will attempt to move the bill through the process.
The village law has caused an unusual split in the House Republican caucus. The village law allows a single landowner to form a village to get around county regulations. Several House Republicans have complained that the measure was slipped into a much larger bill in the waning days of last year’s session without full disclosure to the entire House. A few Republicans have accused House Speaker Rod Jetton (R-Marble Hill) of maneuvering the measure to passage as a political favor for campaign donor Robert Plaster, a Lebanon businessman who had been frustrated by Stone County officials who had blocked his development efforts at Table Rock Lake.