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Another attempt to limit Sam Page's pandemic powers

The St. Louis County executive previously vetoed bills that would have limited his ability to issue COVID-19 related mandates

CLAYTON, Mo. — One day into new COVID-19 restrictions in St. Louis County and the fight over the authority to issue emergency mandates is once again before the county council.

Republican councilmembers successfully passed checks on St. Louis County Executive Sam Page's emergency powers before, but they didn't have the votes on the council to override his veto.

This time the bills take a different approach. 

During Tuesday night's virtual county council meeting, Republicans Tim Fitch and Mark Harder introduced two bills that would allow the county council to cancel by resolution any pandemic or emergency order by the county executive or the health department.

During the public comment section of the meeting, several county residents said in their emailed statements that Page and the health department are abusing their powers in issuing mandates like prohibiting indoor dining. 

"Abusing? I wouldn't use that word," said Councilman Fitch who is often at odds with Page. "I really believe the Department of Public Health, they believe they're doing the right thing. And I really don't have any reason to believe the county executive is making his decisions based on anything other than what he's being told and what he sees as beneficial for himself and maybe the county."

"However, he has had no discussion, nor has the public health director for six months about any of these orders with the county council, the representative of the people," said Fitch. 

"What he should be doing is getting buy-in from the county council, because if we heard his explanations as to why he's doing what he's doing, we may very well support them," he said. 

READ ALSO: The debate continues over indoor dining as St. Louis region sets COVID-19 records

Bills 266 and 267 were just introduced Tuesday night. A vote could take four to six weeks, said Fitch. 

And by then, alliances may have changed and the council will have it's newest member.

So, while Page isn't commenting on the bills his office seems confident that even if they pass the council there won't be enough votes to override his veto. 

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