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Volunteer Jim Talbot holds a sign for passing motorists at a public signing event for the petition to create the city of St. George on Saturday, May 5, 2018 in front of Woodlawn Baptist Church on Jones Creek Road.

State Sen. Yvonne Colomb said Friday backers of making unincorporated St. George a city are "secessionists" and allowing the entire parish to decide the issue is a fair approach.

"It's merely democracy," the Baton Rouge Democrat said in a statement.

"Without the protection offered by my bill it's like one member of a marriage deciding that they deserve all of the good furniture but want to leave behind the loans," the Baton Rouge Democrat said in a statement.

"That's won't work in divorce court and it shouldn't work for city secessionists," Colomb said.

Under current rules, only voters in unincorporated St. George are set to decide whether they will become the fifth city in East Baton Rouge Parish.

Colomb's bill would change that by allowing all parish voters to decide the question.

The plan is seen as a way to defeat the proposal by expanding the area that will vote on it.

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, a longtime opponent of the St. George push, backs the bill.

Colomb said she filed the measure -- Senate Bill 63 -- after consulting with Broome and Baton Rouge attorney Mary Olive Pierson.

Leaders of the petition drive and other critics of the bill contend that what the lawmaker wants to do amounts to changing the rules in the middle of the game.

They said it is part of a bid by City Hall officials to protect their their turf.

Opponents of the legislation include state Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge and state Rep. Rick Edmonds, R-Baton Rouge.

Both lawmakers represent large sections of St. George, which is in the southeastern part of the parish.

Colomb said if St. George leaves remaining parish residents will be saddled with municipal bonds "and other shared financial obligations."

"I suppose there are those who want to think this bill is controversial, but it's merely forcing the minority to ask for permission before grabbing what the majority paid for," Colomb said.

"If they get our permission it won't be grabbing," she said. "So where's the controversy."

The election is set  for later this year.

No date has been set.

The session starts April 8.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.