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Senate perfects bill changing Clean Missouri despite Democrats’ efforts: ‘Here we are’

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri Senate perfected legislation aimed at changing Clean Missouri Tuesday afternoon, despite the second filibuster from Democrats on the subject in less than a week. 

Senators perfected SJR 38 from GOP Sen. Dan Hegeman following a nearly three-hour filibuster. The resolution, which requires voter approval, bans lobbyist gifts to lawmakers altogether and lowers campaign contribution limits for the office of state senator. But it also seeks to change how the redistricting process would work — again. 

“Clean Missouri, when it was put out there, was portrayed as a way of reducing gerrymandering,” Hegeman said. “This is trying to bring it back in to keep the districts as equal as possible so that we move them more away from what I perceive as an effort to gerrymander the state much more than what we already have.” 

Approved by voters in November 2018, Amendment 1 — dubbed “Clean Missouri” — changed the state’s redistricting process to require a new nonpartisan state demographer draw legislative maps for the General Assembly following the 2020 U.S. Census. 

Clean Missouri turns in signatures for initiative petition (ALISHA SHURR/THE MISSOURI TIMES).

Hegeman’s resolution would place the duties in the hands of independent, bipartisan House and Senate commissions, similar to what was done in the past. 

It requires the commissions to draw districts so as not to disenfranchise any particular community from participating in the electoral process. Additionally, districts would need to be drawn based on population and the idea of “one person, one vote;” in concordance with federal law and the Voting Rights Act of 1965; as contiguous and compact as possible; and in keeping communities together as much as possible, Hegeman said. 

Originally, the resolution eliminated the requirement that “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” be taken into account, a point of contention for Democrats.

Hegeman added that provision back into the resolution Tuesday — albeit, making it the lowest priority among redistricting considerations. 

“I will say that this version today … includes partisan fairness and competitiveness, but it’s the last priority on the list. So it has moved that down from being a very important piece of what Clean Missouri proposed that the people voted for down to the bottom of the list of considerations as the lines are drawn,” Sen. Jill Schupp, who led much of Democrats’ efforts against the legislation, said. “I would much prefer those lines be drawn the way the people in my district … and every other Senate district voted — by a nonpartisan demographer — but should a dirty version of this legislation move forward, that simply won’t be the case.” 

State Sen. Jill Schupp

Democratic Sen. Lauren Arthur said she isn’t confident “to what degree that we’ll really see fair or competitive districts.” 

“I don’t know that I necessarily would prioritize undoing what over 60 percent of Missourians voted for. I think we have other, more pressing issues that it would make sense to look at solving those problems and addressing those issues, and I would have liked to see us discussing some of those things before this, but here we are,” Arthur said.

Hegeman’s resolution was initially brought up on the floor Wednesday but was laid over after Democrats launched a nearly 12-hour filibuster that lasted into early Thursday morning. 

“I am standing with our voters to support what they chose to do to make our state more representative of their values,” Schupp said. 

Tuesday’s filibuster included praise for the new Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs, and questions about what the problems with the Iowa caucuses could mean for the upcoming presidential election. 

Just like it didn’t take long for senators to engage in a filibuster this session, nicknames were assigned to the resolution early on: “Cleaner Missouri” for proponents; “Dirty Missouri” for opponents.