JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Republican senators rolled out a plan Tuesday to ask Missouri voters to undo key parts of a nationally unique redistricting model that directs a demographer to draw new legislative districts for “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness.”
The GOP proposal would abolish the demographer position and relegate political fairness and competitiveness to the bottom of the priority list, behind such criteria as compact and contiguous districts that keep communities intact.
“We’re going to provide voters with another option,” Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz said. Republicans currently hold commanding majorities in Missouri’s House and Senate. An Associated Press analysis of Missouri’s redistricting formula shows it is likely to lead to Democratic gains while dropping Republican majorities closer to the more even partisan division often reflected in statewide races.
During its first Senate committee hearing Tuesday, the GOP proposal drew opposition from supporters of the original ballot measure, called “Clean Missouri,” which was approved by voters by 62%.
The initiative “set it up so the system is not as politically influenced,” said John Madras, a Sierra Club member who said he circulated petitions to help get the Clean Missouri measure on the ballot. “This bill reverses that and returns it to an entirely political process.”
The Missouri Constitution says state House and Senate districts are to be approved by a pair of bipartisan commissions whose members are nominated by the Republican and Democratic parties and appointed by the governor. That has allowed consultants and experts hired by the parties to work behind the scenes to develop maps, though the current state House districts were drawn by a judicial panel after the bipartisan commission failed to agree on a plan.
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