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Miller County split on Clean Missouri Initiative

Miller County split on Clean Missouri Initiative

July 7th, 2018 by Allen Fennewald in Local News

The partisan divide spread a little wider in Miller County as committees for the respective major political parties recently came down on opposing sides of the debate over the Clean Missouri Initiative, which is set to appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The Miller County Republican Central Committee has announced its opposition to the Clean Missouri Initiative, siding against the Miller County Democratic Committee, which supports the initiative. The Republican committee claimed the initiative protects political parties at the cost of Missouri voters, while the Democrats said the measure would allow more public input into the political process over that of lobbyists.

The Clean Missouri Initiative is a statewide legislative reform measure intended to increase transparency in Missouri government and reduce the partisan impact on redrawing congressional districts, among other things. The measure would require the public accessibility of legislative records by requiring the Legislature to operate under the same open records law as other public entities. It also would require legislators to wait two years before becoming lobbyists, limit lobbyist gifting in the General Assembly to $5 and lower campaign contribution limits.

"We believe this should be a bipartisan issue as many of the measures in the Clean Missouri Initiative were originally introduced by Republican members of the state legislature and has been endorsed by some Republican members of said body," said Miller County Democratic Committee Chairman Bryan Struebig, referring to Republican Clean Missouri supporters like state Sen. Rob Schaaf and state Rep. Nick Marshall.

Struebig also is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Missouri Senate District 6 seat in the Aug. 7 primary election.

Among the most contested aspects of the measure is the effort to limit either party's ability to advantage itself when redrawing district maps after the next census by requiring a non-partisan state demographer to create the new district layout, rather than political appointees or appellate judges.

According to the Republican committee's resolution adopted June 30, the Clean Missouri Initiative "does not repair any existing issue within Missouri's current redistricting process" because it removes public input from the redistricting process by giving control of the process to an unelected official appointed by the state auditor.

Critics of Clean Missouri have contended there is no guarantee the state demographer will be protected from partisan pressures.

The Republican committee also opposes Clean Missouri's proposal to require parties to receive approximate equal efficiency in their districts as part of an effort to promote partisan fairness. A district's efficiency is determined by calculating the difference between a parties' respective amount of votes cast in excess of the amount of votes necessary to win an election, divided by the total number of votes. The Miller County Republican committee referred to this process, known as the "efficiency gap," as an unproven measure that conflicts with the 1965 Voting Rights Act's protection of majority-minority districts, which is intended to prevent the dilution of minority people's voting strength.

Section two of the Voting Rights Act mandates district maps be drawn in a way that allows for minority communities to have enough voting representation in a district to impact election results and allow for more minority representation in the Legislature. Critics of this redistricting practice have said it can be manipulated to deplete minority people's overall voting impact in the state and nation by limiting them to a relatively small amount of districts. This is referred to as "packing," when a group of citizens is placed within a single district in order to diminish the group's influence in other districts, contrary to the original spirit of the Voting Rights Act. Since statistically most minority citizens vote Democratic, critics have viewed this practice as a Republican strategy to advance candidates and legislation.