Clash Over Gerrymandering Back at Missouri Legislature
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A showdown on gerrymandering is expected over a proposed initiative that would gut the "fair maps" rules passed by Missouri voters just two years ago.
In 2018, Amendment 1 put the redistricting process in the hands of a nonpartisan demographer. Friday is the deadline for the Missouri House of Representatives to put the referendum on the November ballot.
Sean Soendker Nicholson, campaign director for the Clean Missouri campaign, said the new initiative would return the map-making power to politicians and their parties.
"It's fundamentally about protecting politicians in super-safe districts," he said, "so that voters can't ever hold them accountable."
Senate Joint Resolution 38 already has passed the state Senate. Conservative backers have said the initiative would tighten some ethics rules, but clean-elections advocates have said it also would make it harder to challenge in court any maps redrawn after the 2020 census for partisan advantage.
Soendker Nicholson said Missouri's current legislative maps were drawn in 2011 to protect incumbent politicians. So, while the statewide elections are often neck-and-neck, legislative races are not.
"More than 90% of our state House and state Senate elections are totally not competitive," he said, "and a full half of the elections don't even have two major party candidates on the ballot in November."
The referendum also would remove children from the population counts for the map, which would give an advantage to rural areas over big cities. Good-government watchdog groups already have vowed to fight the initiative if it ends up on the November ballot.
The text of SJR 38 is online at legiscan.com.
Support for this reporting was provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
get more stories like this via email
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Climate activists are praising Gov. Gavin Newsom for signing a $15 billion climate action package Thursday, but argued he …
LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan advocates for children and families are praising many of the investments in the 2022 state budget passed this week…
DES MOINES, Iowa -- There is strong public support in Iowa to enact a state law that criminalizes elder abuse, a topic also being discussed by law …
SALT LAKE CITY -- A researcher at the University of Utah said plans for generating renewable energy should include a power source right under our feet…
CHICAGO -- Advocates for immigrants and refugees in Illinois traveled to Washington, D.C., this week to push for a pathway to citizenship for up to …
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Arkansas produces more rice than any other state, and a new grant will help farmers explore ways to transition the industry to …
SANTA FE, N.M. -- A New Mexico legislator is optimistic a bill will pass in the 2022 session to prohibit life sentences for juveniles convicted of …
Health and Wellness
LEWISBURG, W. Va. -- Political canvassers and organizers in the state are expecting they will continue to struggle with challenges to traditional …