While the ink is still drying on the Clean Missouri Amendment strongly passed by Missouri voters last November, House lawmakers have already approved legislation to overturn a portion of the constitutional amendment regarding legislative redistricting.
If the state Senate approves a new plan, voters will again have to decide.
Last week, by a vote of 108 to 46 House Resolutions 46, 47, and 48 were passed which sent a new plan to their Senate colleagues for consideration with just two weeks left in the 2019 session.
Last year, the measure approved by voters statewide called for the position of a nonpartisan state demographer to be created to draw new House and Senate legislative districts based on the 2020 census.
It passed statewide by a 61 to 38 percent margin with 1,459,576 votes in favor of the amendment and 895,012 against.
In Franklin County, the margin of passage was 54 to 45 percent, with 22,953 votes in favor and 18,888 against.
The House plan sent to the Senate last week would eliminate the sole demographer and instead replace it with bipartisan panels to redraw the district as it has been done in the past.
Many proponents of the Clean Missouri redistricting plan argue the actions of the Legislature are going against the will of the voters who passed the amendment by such a wide margin.
All four lawmakers representing Franklin County voted in favor of the resolution and had been critical of the Clean Missouri amendment since its inception last summer.
State Rep. Nate Tate, R-St.Clair, has been a critic of Clean Missouri even since before it was widely known about by the general public and says the critics’ arguments just aren’t true.
“If it passes the Senate, then it is going to a vote of the people,” Tate said. “We didn’t pass anything that goes against the will of the voters because this will not happen unless the voters approve it.”
State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, R-Washington, also voted in favor of the resolutions to tweak Clean Missouri.
“An independent bipartisan citizens committee is more appropriate,” Griesheimer said. “It is a truly fair way to draw the maps rather than a single bureaucrat whose appointment will be controlled by a partisan elected official.”
State Rep. John Simmons, R-Krakow, says the state has had a noncontroversial bipartisan/nonpartisan redistricting process for years.
“Nothing about our prior process hinted at gerrymandering,” he said. “With Amendment 1, gerrymandering is actually introduced to the process, and introduced in a big way. That’s the unintended part. HJR 48 would stop that process in its tracks.”
The Clean Missouri movement aimed at making political races for state offices more competitive, kicked off its official campaign in Washington in late August 2018.
After volunteers, including several in Franklin County, collected 346,000 signatures statewide, the Clean Missouri initiative, or Amendment 1, was placed on the November general election ballot.
According to the group, Washington was selected as the first step on the trail since Franklin County voters have supported both ethics and campaign reform issues in the past.
Other aspects of Amendment 1 (Clean Missouri) include:
• Change limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state Legislature can accept from individuals or entities;
• Establish a limit on gifts that state legislators, and their employees, can accept from paid lobbyists; and
• Prohibit state legislators, and their employees, from serving as paid lobbyists for a period of time.