Campaign donation limits would apply to all city races under legislation introduced by St. Louis Board of Aldermen

Donors to local candidate campaigns would be banned from giving contributions larger than $2,600 under legislation introduced at the St. Louis Board of Aldermen meeting Friday.

Board Bill 35, introduced by Alderwoman Cara Spencer, 20th Ward, would amend a current city ordinance to acknowledge newly passed state maximum limits on campaign contributions and decrease maximum limits on campaign contributions for local elections.

St. Louis City Hall

“This is just an issue of good governance,” Spencer said. “We have got to start pulling out big donors, big money out of our political process and make it more resident and citizen driven.”

The city of St. Louis recognized there was an issue with limitless campaign contribution and took action in 2016 by passing a local ordinance that provided a limit of $10,000 per campaign cycle, per campaign contributor. That was different than the state of Missouri at the time, which was limitless.

The state has since imposed a $2,600 limit while St. Louis County is currently in the process of rapidly adopting the exact same measure. The St. Louis County Council perfected the measure by a vote of 6-1 Tuesday. Bill No. 78 is being sponsored by St. Louis County Councilmember Ernie Trakas.

“The city of St. Louis really ought to follow suit,” Spencer said. “We ought to have very similar, seamless campaign finance laws that guide how we are able to collect from donors, especially given in a city and state like Missouri and St. Louis — many of our local representatives run for state election and vice versa. They should have very similar campaign finance laws. Our donors are the same and in many cases our candidates are the same.”

The bill was first read during the board’s regularly scheduled weekly meeting and was referenced to the legislative committee, where it will have to be passed and returned to the board for final approval.

Spencer is hopeful the bill will move swiftly. She said several co-sponsors have lined up to support the bill, but that here is still some opposition and concern.

“I’ve gotten a lot of good feedback from my colleagues,” Spencer said. “I’m hopeful with the county moving forward we can use that as a good point to make sure we’re falling in line. We’ll certainly have a lively debate on it and give it some good due process before we move forward with it.”

In other news, the city of St. Louis is offering free gun locks to residents from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday at city hall. The event is sponsored by Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice, in partnership with the City of St. Louis, St. Louis City Health Department, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital and the Deaconess Foundation in an effort to promote gun safety in homes.

Nearly 40 percent of homes with children in the United States have a gun. Approximately one in three handguns in America is kept loaded and unlocked. Through its “Lock It for Love” project, Women’s Voices has distributed more than 3,000 free gun locks to St. Louis area families.

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