JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri House has passed a congressional map for the second time this session less than five days before lawmakers adjourn indefinitely.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed against the state because lawmakers have failed to redraw the lines for a new congressional map. Missouri is one of the last states in the nation to get the constitutional duty done. With a deadline of Friday at 6 p.m., the General Assembly is trying to nail down the lines of who represents which Missourians in Congress.
“Missouri deserves this to be properly vetted and debated,” said Rep. Patty Lewis (D-Kansas City). “Last week they just wanted to speed things along because it happens only every 10 years.”
It’s been more than a month since either the House or the Senate has debated a map. Last Wednesday, a new version was proposed to try to get past the gridlock and get the constitutional duty done before the courts take over. 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.
“At the end of the day, I’m almost willing to vote for just about anything,” Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) said Friday.
The previous map is stuck in the Senate, which won’t vote to compromise with the House, which is the reason for the new version.
Chairman of the House redistricting committee Rep. Dan Shaul (R-Imperial) offered an amendment on the floor Monday, that passed out and is now headed to the Senate.
“I think this gives us the best chance to fulfill our constitutional obligation by the end of session,” Shaul 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 between 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.
Under the current map, nearly all of Webster County was in the 4th District. Under the new version, it would be split in half between the 4th and 7th Districts.
Jefferson City would also be split between the 3rd and the 8th Districts. In his version he proposed Monday, he said that they had to cut farther into Jefferson County in order to keep Phelps all within the 8th District.
Boone County is also split between the 3rd and the 4th Districts along Broadway and I-70, frustrating the lawmakers who represent that area.
“It divides Columbia right down the middle,” said Rep. David Tyson Smith (D-Columbia). “It’s Broadway. So if I go to work, I’m in one congressional district when I park. And if I walk up a couple of blocks to the courthouse, I’m in another congressional district.”
The House approved the map 104-47 and then later approved the emergency clause with 114 votes, which would make the map effective as soon as the governor signs the legislation. Now, that it’s passed by the lower chamber, it heads to the Senate.
“We’re more than happy to look at whatever they come up with, but as far as going to conference on what we have, I still see that as a nonstarter,” said Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo (D-Independence). “If they can make everyone happy and find the unicorn map as I’ve been saying this session, we’ll be more than happy to take a look at it.”
Missouri is one of four states that haven’t approved a new congressional map, the other three states, Kansas, New York, and New Hampshire have all had maps thrown out by the courts.
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 map is now in the Senate’s hands who have until Friday at 6 p.m. to vote on the map and send it to the governor’s desk. If lawmakers adjourn sine die without finishing the redistricting process, it will be up to the courts.
There have been both federal and state lawsuits filed against Missouri for not having this done.
Rep. Peggy McGaugh (R-Carrollton) a former county clerk, told her colleagues the reason this needs to be done this week is because of the August primary.
“I’m not speaking on the map, I’m speaking on the process,” McGaugh said. “Time is of the essence. That is very true today.”
She said the last day for any election authority to move a voter based on the new congressional map and their address is May 24. By May 25, ballots will start to be made for the August election. McGaugh also stressed the concerns of overseas and military ballots since Missourians can start casting those ballots on June 17.