Missouri Congressional map held up by politicians in state legislature

Steve Chapman

State House of Representatives map finalized, Missouri Senate map to be decided by judicial commission
According to the Missouri Constitution, the Missouri General Assembly is required to redraw the state’s three constitutional maps following each census: The map of the state’s federal congressional seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the map of Missouri’s House of Representative’s districts and the map of the state’s senate districts.

A 7-1 map or a 6-2 map?
Right now, more attention is being focused on the state’s congressional redistricting map. The Missouri House of Representatives passed House Bill 2117 on Jan. 19, which created a congressional map that retains the state’s current apportionment of six Republican representatives and two Democrat.
However, a bill in the Missouri Senate that would also retain the current distribution of representatives between the two parties, Senate Bill 663, has been prevented from passage. It was reported that on Feb. 7, Missouri Sen. Bob Eigel, representing the state’s 23rd district, proposed an amendment to the legislation that would split Kansas City into two districts while keeping St. Charles County together, creating a 7-1 congressional map. However, the proposed amendment was voted down in the state senate, 24-8. But, Missouri senators supporting the 7-1 map halted action on the 6-2 map by filibustering and engaging in delaying actions. The Missouri Senate paused action on the congressional map on Feb. 13 to focus on other legislation.

Differing views on how maps will impact future elections
Sen. Bill White, representing the 32nd District, said in an open letter that the 7-1 map, by dividing Kansas City, would put “hundreds of thousands of liberal voters into predominantly rural districts” and could cause Newton or Jasper County to be “represented by someone from southern Kansas City.” He also stated that with the 7-1 map, Missouri could easily go from seven Republicans and one Democrat in the house to five Republicans and three Democrats, or possibly an even split or Republicans and Democrats in the House if the Republican Party has a bad election year.
Meanwhile, Sen. Bob Onder, representing the 2nd District, voiced his support for the 7-1 map, calling it “the Pelosi 5-3 Map.” In a response to White, Onder said the 7-1 map would “ensure that seven Republicans … will compete in districts that Donald Trump won in 2020 by more than 15 points” and dismissed White’s statement that Democrats could win up to three or four seats in the House as “disingenuous political spin.”
Onder also said that the 6-2 map could itself become a 5-3 map, as the seat currently held by Republican Congressman Josh Hawley is a competitive seat that he won by only 1.9-percent in 2018, and if the 6-2 map goes forward, “it will be a Democrat representing this seat no later than 2026.”
Should a 7-1 map pass in the Senate, it would have to also be approved by the Missouri House of Representatives.

Schoeller urges completion of the redistricting process as soon as possible
Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller said he wrote letters to the chairmen of the redistricting committees in both houses of the Missouri General Assembly, in which he emphasized the importance of the redistricting process being completed as quickly as possible.
“Most importantly, there are deadlines in our work that are directly affected by the approval of
new district lines, which will inevitably affect the success of our elections,” he said. “Every election in
2022, by law, begins 10 weeks prior to Election Day when the races and issues are certified to
our offices and concludes two weeks after Election Day once results are certified. This means that
administratively, the April 2022 local election begins on Jan. 25 and ends April 19, followed shortly by the August 2022 primary election, which begins on May 24. Every election is administered in the statewide voter registration database, which houses the district boundaries and voter district assignments currently in effect. This process is how we ensure voters receive the right ballot on Election Day.”
Schoeller also said that if the boundary lines are not decided by May 24, election offices would face “significant issues that cannot be avoided or easily fixed,” such as difficulties in preparing absentee ballots, as well as the diminishing of the public’s perception of the integrity of the state’s election process.

Redistricting for Missouri State House, Senate separate processes
While the debate goes on over the redistricting of the congressional map, not as much attention has been paid to the redistricting of the Missouri Senate and the Missouri House, at least partly because those processes are not affected by the controversy over the congressional map.
“The current impasse in deciding the new apportionment for the congressional map does not affect the redistricting process for the Missouri Senate or House, as the processes are completely independent of each other,” Schoeller said.
The map for the House, Schoeller said, is drawn by the House Independent Bipartisan Commission, while the Senate map is drawn up by the Senate Independent Bipartisan Commission (SIBC). Schoeller added that the House map has been completed, the Senate map is still being decided on.
“The Senate Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission did not agree on a final map,” he said, “and so it will be decided by a judiciary panel.”
The Missouri Senate has 34 districts; the Missouri House has 163.


Lawrence County Record

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Mt. Vernon, MO, 65712


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