Missouri lawmakers still are working feverishly to dismantle changes voters made to the state Constitution to clean up politics in Jefferson City.
The House on Monday sent the Senate a proposed constitutional amendment that would erase parts of Clean Missouri, passed by 62 percent of voters last November. Among other things, Clean Missouri:
• Changed the process used to redraw state House and Senate district boundaries every 10 years, after the federal census is finished. It created the post of “nonpartisan state demographer” — to be chosen by the state auditor from applications — to oversee the redistricting process.
• Reduced the limits on campaign contributions that candidates for state Legislature can accept from individuals or groups.
• Limited the gifts state lawmakers and their employees can accept from paid lobbyists to items that cost $5 or less.
• Prohibited lawmakers and their employees from serving as paid lobbyists for a two-year period after the lawmaker leaves office.
• Prohibited political fundraising on state property by candidates for, or members of, the Legislature.
• Required legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public under the Sunshine Law.
Republicans are the driving force behind the attempt to undo voters’ will. For them, the hardest change to swallow is the first — the change to the House/Senate redistricting process.
Their proposed amendment would change the criteria for drawing new legislative districts. It would eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer’s position created by Amendment 1, as well as the requirement that the demographer draw redistricting maps using mathematical formulas based on partisan fairness and competitiveness.
Missouri Rep. Dean Plocher, R-St. Louis County, sponsored the bill, arguing it more closely follows the state Constitution and federal law than Clean Missouri. But he hasn’t shown that Clean Missouri violated either.
Politicians seem to praise voters as being well-informed (especially when voting for them), but ill-informed if they approve something that’s distasteful to them.
Plocher has said his “bipartisan committee” will be better than “a single bureaucrat whose appointment will be controlled by a partisan elected official” to draw the maps.
“This removes the danger of a single redistricting czar under the sway, if not outright control, of one political party or set of special interest,” he said.
But before Clean Missouri, the Constitution required bipartisan commissions to redraw the state legislative districts, with a fall-back to six appeals court judges if the commissions failed to do their work.
For most of the last three decades, the judges — not the commissions — drew the maps, because the commissions didn’t work.
Lawmakers should respect voters’ will and leave Clean Missouri alone.