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MO Lawmakers Urged to Drop 'Clean Missouri' Repeal

May 15 is the final day of the Missouri General Assembly's 2020 regular session, but the budget must be approved a week earlier. (Robert Stinnett/Flickr)
May 15 is the final day of the Missouri General Assembly's 2020 regular session, but the budget must be approved a week earlier. (Robert Stinnett/Flickr)
April 29, 2020

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Supporters of the "Clean Missouri" amendment say the final weeks of the 2020 Legislature should not be focused on an effort to overturn the will of voters.

After being sidelined by the COVID-19 outbreak, lawmakers are back in Jefferson City to tackle the state budget ahead of a May 8 deadline. Ashton Kuehnel, an organizer for the Sierra Club's Missouri Chapter, said there's talk that SJR 38, which would roll back redistricting reforms put in place by the 2018 Clean Missouri amendment, also may be considered.

"We need to put our focus on helping our communities get back on their feet, protect our families, protect our workers," he said, "but there's some concerns that majority party leaders are really wanting to get this squared away. And this is becoming a priority, when our health and economy should be, instead."

Clean Missouri passed with 62% of the vote, and requires a new, nonpartisan state demographer to draw legislative maps. Opponents argued it was too broad. SJR 38 calls for a bipartisan legislative commission appointed by the governor to draw maps, and also would alter the criteria used to determine districts.

One argument against Clean Missouri was that voters didn't fully understand what they'd approved. Missouri Sierra Club Chapter Director John Hickey said he finds those claims insulting.

"Voters can't be too stupid to vote on Clean Missouri but smart when they're voting for these politicians," he said, "so the politicians can't have it both ways. At the end of the day, we want the politicians to respect our vote."

Kuehnel contended that the makeup of the state Legislature should reflect Missouri communities, and said repealing a voter-approved measure through SJR 38 isn't the answer.

"It's going to make our state even more gerrymandered than it already is," he said, "and across the state in Columbia and Springfield, we're seeing that already, with weird districts cut up in our communities that aren't actually what our communities look like."

SJR 38 was passed by the Senate and was referred to the House General Laws Committee. The session ends May 15.

The text of SJR 38 is online at senate.mo.gov.

Disclosure: Sierra Club, Missouri Chapter contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Endangered Species & Wildlife, Energy Policy and Environment. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MO