By Dan Mehan
Missouri voters have a lot to decide on Tuesday. Amendment 1 is an easy no vote.
Amendment 1 is a deceptive, cynical effort funded by out-of-state interests in an attempt to hijack Missouri and divide our rural, urban and suburban communities. The backers of Amendment 1 claim it is a “cure” for what is wrong with politics in Jefferson City. In reality, if passed Amendment 1 will actually make politics worse by injecting raw partisanship into our non-partisan redistricting process.
Numerous states have redistricting measures on the ballot next week. Missouri is the only state looking to make gerrymandering a requirement for redistricting. The other states are looking at the current bipartisan redistricting model used in Missouri and hoping to replicate this model in their states. If Missouri’s bipartisan redistricting process was so bad other states would not be looking to Missouri for a solution to fix redistricting in their states.
Proponents of Amendment 1 claim this measure is about ethics reform. They are hoping Missouri voters will be so seduced by popular-sounding ethics reforms they won’t bother to recognize the vast majority of this amendment deals with replacing the bipartisan redistricting process in our state with partisan gerrymandering. The out-of-state donors who support Amendment 1 cynically call it “Clean Missouri,” but it’s actually a wolf in sheep’s clothing worthy of the name “Fleece Missouri.”
If we move from the current non-partisan redistricting standards of compact and contiguous districts to Amendment 1’s fifty-fifty mandate, gerrymandering would be enshrined in our constitution creating long, spaghetti-noodle districts drawn from the more urban areas of Missouri into the suburbs and, in some cases, into the surrounding rural areas. The effect would geographically marginalize communities of interest throughout our state, both urban and rural.
The out-of-state supporters of Amendment 1 know it is a power grab that will divide Missouri communities of interest and that is why they trying to fleece Missouri voters with the promise of ethics reform. This is why a large and diverse coalition of bipartisan leaders from across Missouri are opposing Amendment 1. Business coalitions like ours have joined forces with farm groups like the Missouri Farm Bureau and the Missouri Cattlemen Association to oppose it. Republicans like former U.S. Senator Jim Talent and State Rep. Shamed Dogan have joined with Democrats like Congressman Lacy Clay and State Senate Kiki Curls to oppose it. We have all come together because we know if Amendment 1 passes, Missourians will lose and out-of-state special interests will win.
Amendment 1 supporters cannot win the policy debates in Jefferson City so are using the guise of ethics reform to game the redistricting process in hopes of getting their agenda through the state legislature at the expense of rural and urban representation.
I urge you to vote no on Amendment 1 and stop out-of-state activists from fleecing Missouri families.
Dan Mehan is the President/CEO Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry.