Breaking News
More () »

County executive vetoes bills on tobacco sales near schools, pedestrians on roadways

Both bills passed the St. Louis County Council 4-3. It requires five votes to override a veto.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced in a press conference Tuesday that he will veto two bills passed by the county council earlier this month.

Bill 73 would have loosened restrictions on tobacco sales within 1,000 feet of St. Louis County schools and Bill 86 would have required pedestrians to stay off roads in areas where sidewalks are available. Both bills passed the county council by 4-3 votes.

St. Louis County Councilman Ernie Trakas, who sponsored the pedestrian bill, said that it was for the sake of public safety. 

“If there's a sidewalk, you need to be on it," he said earlier this month. "If there's a crosswalk, you need to be in it. If you have to travel on a roadway, then here's the portion of the roadway, we'll call it the shoulder facing traffic so that there's a reduction in the ability or the chance that someone could get injured."

Republicans Dennis Hancock, Mark Harder and Ernie Trakas were joined by Democrat Shalonda Webb in approving the bill. Democrats Lisa Clancy, Rita Heard Days, and Kelli Dunaway voted against it.

Opponents of the bill included disability advocacy group Paraquad and pedestrian and cycling nonprofit Trailnet. The groups said the bill did not consider the quality and availability of sidewalks throughout the county.

Page echoed those concerns Tuesday in announcing his veto plan.

"Unless we can provide a comprehensive system of good sidewalks, we cannot punish our residents for not walking in the street and for walking in the street," Page said.

He said the county should conduct more research before implementing a pedestrian law.

Bill 73, which was sponsored by Councilwoman Shalonda Webb, would have altered a 2019 law limiting sales of tobacco within 1,000 feet of schools. The 2019 law allowed existing businesses to continue selling tobacco products but blocked new businesses from doing so.

The change would have extended that exception to new business owners at locations where the producers were allowed to be sold within the last two years.

Convenience store owners testified before the council saying they are struggling to sell their businesses because the tobacco licenses will not transfer. Some of those business owners said their stores were not within 1,000 feet of a school when they opened, but that schools were then constructed near their businesses.

Page said the change would have reduced the effect of the original exemption. 

Democrats Days and Webb and Republicans Harder and Hancock voted yes on the bill. Democrats Clancy and Dunaway were joined by Republican Trakas in voting no.

In a letter following Page's press conference, Webb said the bill would have "allowed business owners to sell their businesses without taking huge losses or worse, closing completely," and said the veto will do "nothing to keep our children safe from smoking."

It requires five votes from the St. Louis County Council to override a veto from the St. Louis County Executive, so a council member would have to change their vote to override either veto.

Before You Leave, Check This Out