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General Assembly moves to make redistricting progress more transparent

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri General Assembly has truly agreed and finally passed a measure designed to make the process of drawing districts more open and transparent.

SB 213, championed by Sen. Dan Hegeman and Rep. Curtis Trent, alters provisions related to the newly-created position of “nonpartisan state demographer” and the requirements under which the position operates. The measure passed the Senate at the end of March with a 26-7 vote and passed the House on Thursday with a 142-3 vote. It now heads to the governor’s desk.

“I’m happy to see this legislation go forward and bring some transparency, some openness, and set some parameters for this new positions of state demographer,” Hegeman told the Missouri Times.

In November, Missourians approved a new constitutional amendment making sweeping changes to the ethics standards in the legislature and altering the way legislative districts are drawn.

Under the so-dubbed Clean Missouri amendment, a nonpartisan state demographer will be selected to draw the districts that make up the General Assembly.

“Hopefully, it will make the process stronger,” Trent said.

The measure requires the demographer to create an online portal for public commentary. Individuals who submit comments through the Redistricting Public Comment Portal will be required to disclose if the person was paid to make the submission and who paid for the submission.

The measure also lays out parameters for what the nonpartisan state demographer can do while in the position. The demographer can only receive compensation from the state of Missouri, will not be allowed to accept gifts of any kind, and can’t engage in communications about the redistricting process unless through the Redistricting Public Comment Portal.

“It just tries to make the process as open and as transparent as possible,” said Hegeman. “I think that is what people were asking for in Clean Missouri. This bill just goes in accordance with that.”