JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Multiple lawsuits have been filed against Missouri because lawmakers have failed to redraw the lines for a new congressional map.
It’s been more than a month since either the House or the Senate has debated a map. Wednesday, a new version was proposed to try to get past the gridlock and get the constitutional duty done before the courts take over.
“Frankly I don’t like this as much as what we passed before but you know, we got to give a little to get a little I guess,” Rep. Shamed Dogan (R-Ballwin) said during the committee hearing.
Another change at approving a congressional map. The original goal was to have it redrawn for candidate filing which closed at the end of March. Now, it’s about getting the job done before the end of session.
“I think this map is more built to survive the Senate, to survive the process and that’s what our goal is to get to the governor’s desk by next Friday,” Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Imperial) said. “Our problem with getting any of these maps done doesn’t lie in the west wing of this building.”
The previous map is stuck in the Senate, who won’t vote to compromise with the House, which is the reason for the new version. Missouri is one of the last states in the country to approve a map, something that must be done every 10 years.
“I would love to have had this all done in the fall so it wouldn’t have affected this session as much as it’s been, but there’s no minute like the last minute it seems like on important issues,” Rep. J. Eggleston (R-Maysville) said.
Some representatives on the House Special Committee on Redistricting blamed the upper chamber during the hearing for having to go through this process against of redrawing a map.
“If we would have had more cooperation from the Senate we would not be faced with trying to rush through this process,” Rep. Chuck Basye (R-Rocheport) said.
The new map, House Bill 2909, a 6 Republican-2 Democrat map, is similar to what’s already in place. It keeps both military bases, Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base in the 4th District. It also puts more of St. Charles County in the same district. It also puts more of St. Charles in the same district with 25% in the 2nd District and 74% in the 3rd District. In the current map, the population in the county is split 65% to 35%.
It also leaves the Democrat seat, U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s district, in Jackson County but splits the county three ways, between the 5th, 6th, and 4th Districts. It also chops Webster County, near Springfield into two districts which is why Mike Cunningham, a former senator and resident of Rogersville testified during the committee.
“We’re such a part of the seventh presently that 53% of the people in Webster County actually work in Greene County,” Cunningham said. “That’s a big thing for us.”
Under the current map. nearly all of Webster County was in the 4th District, but under the new version would be split in half between the 4th and 7th Districts.
“The original split wasn’t such a big deal because it just took a little corner and needed to be done to do the right thing,” Cunningham said.
Jefferson City would also be split into under the version released Wednesday. About 24% of the population would be in the 3rd District and 75% in the 8th District.
The state’s population after the census was 6,154,913, meaning that the increase in each of the eight congressional districts was 20,000 people. In total, each district needs to have 769,364 Missourians. The 1st district, which represents St. Louis City, and the 8th district, southeast Missouri, both needed more people, while the 7th district, covering southwest Missouri like Joplin needed less.
The three Democrats on the committee—Rep. Jerome Barnes (D-Raytown), Rep. Donna Baringer (D-St. Louis), and Rep. LaKeySha Bosley (D-St. Louis)—all voted against the map.
“Isn’t it an increase on the split counts versus the bill that was passed out of this committee previously?” Baringer asked Shaul.
Shaul responded by saying yes. He said there are 10 splits in this version of the map including Warren, Montgomery, St. Charles, Webster, Camden, Jackson, Clay, Jefferson, St. Louis, and Boone counties.
“With the magnitude of this that’s going to effect for the next 10 years, I just hate rushing into it,” Barnes said. “I have a little heartburn on the rush on this one.”
There have been both state and federal lawsuit filed against Missouri for not having this done.
Shaul told the committee the goal is to have the entire House debate the map Monday, then the Senate would have the rest of the week to approve it and get it to the governor’s desk by Friday at 6 p.m., the final day of session.