Lawmakers may ask voters to revisit Amendment 1’s radical redistricting
During the 2018 election, Missouri airwaves were filled with advertisements about an innovative ballot measure that promised to clean up state politics.
The multi-million-dollar campaign — bankrolled by out-of-state, anti-business activists — focused on how the Amendment 1 would restrict lobbyist gifts and campaign contributions. The proposal was dubbed “Clean Missouri” and won many endorsements. Even Hollywood stars like Jennifer Lawrence chimed in, urging Missourians to vote “yes.”
The campaign worked. On Election Day, Missourians approved Amendment 1.
Before the vote, the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry had sounded alarms that Amendment 1 was attempting to deceive voters. While the Clean Missouri campaign kept the focus on gift restrictions and campaign contributions, the amendment’s most impactful language would alter how Missouri draws the lines that make up Missouri House and Senate districts.
The Missouri Chamber argued that the new redistricting model was problematic and could lead to a radical shift in priorities in state government. But this warning was easily drowned out by the millions of dollars in untraceable “dark money” donations that were sent to Missouri in support of Amendment 1.
Since the vote, more Missourians are coming to grips with the dramatic changes in store should the amendment be fully implemented.
The Missouri Senate has begun discussions on legislation that would give voters a chance to revise what they passed in 2018. Senate Joint Resolution 38, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, a Republican from Cosby, would ban all lobbyists gifts and stop the extreme redistricting scheme contained in Amendment 1.
“I’ve heard from numerous constituents who voted for the amendment without realizing that it changed our state redistricting process,” Hegeman said on the Senate floor during debate on his resolution. “They simply thought it banned lobbyists gifts — which it also did not do — and that banning of lobbyists gifts would be achieved by this resolution. This will give the voters another opportunity to weigh in on this monumental change that could have ramifications for years, if not generations.”
Since Amendment 1 passed, it’s become more widely understood that the new redistricting plan is more like an experiment. It’s never been tried or tested in another state. There are concerns that House and Senate districts could end up looking like strings of spaghetti as the state demographer searches for ways to find the politically-competitive districts that are stipulated in Amendment 1. No longer would the state have compact and contiguous districts and communities of interest would likely be separated.
For the Missouri Chamber and the state’s business community, the redistricting plan is a cause for major concern.
Left as it is, the new districts could lead to a radical shift in priorities in the Missouri General Assembly, opening the door to higher taxes and more bureaucratic regulation. It could also reverse long-running efforts to make our state business friendly and competitive for growth and investment opportunities.
Senate Joint Resolution 38 was passed by the Senate Rules, Joint Rules, Resolutions and Ethics Committee. Debate began in the full Senate on Jan. 29.
The proposal is likely to see more debate before it comes to a vote.
The Missouri Chamber is closely watching this legislation and urges our members to share their views with their State Senator as the discussion continues.
For more information, contact Ross Lien, Missouri Chamber director of governmental affairs, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-634-3511.