JEFFERSON CITY — “If you loved Clean Missouri, you’ll love Cleaner Missouri,” Sen. Denny Hoskins, R-Warrensburg, said Wednesday as the Senate kicked off a marathon debate on legislation that would ask voters to rewrite major parts of Clean Missouri.
Senators were still debating late into the evening, and two votes would be required before it could be sent to the House for consideration.
The changes proposed in Senate Joint Resolution 38 have a major focus on redistricting. The resolution would put the job of redistricting back in the hands of a bipartisan commission, which was the system prior to the enactment of the constitutional amendment.
Clean Missouri was a constitutional amendment put on the ballot by citizens in 2018 that provided the state with widespread reform, including reducing lobbyist gifts, lowering campaign contribution limits and changing the way districts are drawn by putting the job in the hands of an independent demographer, which supporters said made it more nonpartisan.
Clean Missouri passed overwhelmingly across the state with 62% voting in favor, and many senators expressed concern that moving forward with the proposed changes would blatantly go against the will of the voters.
If lawmakers ultimately pass the resolution, it wouldn’t become law: it would be added as a ballot measure in the fall, and voters would decide whether to pass it.
The Senate debate covered a wide variety of topics covered in Clean Missouri.
The current redistricting system bases the drawing of legislative districts on total population; the revised version calls for a “one person, one vote” system. Some Republicans argued that follows federal law; some Democrats warned that such a change could allow for only counting voting-age residents and could leave out immigrants who aren’t citizens.
Senators also debated the influence of dark money and proposed alterations to the campaign finance limit portion of Clean Missouri.
The new version of Clean Missouri was proposed by Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, who opposed the 2018 ballot measure. This is not the first resolution that has been proposed to overturn Clean Missouri, but it is the first in this legislative session. Hegeman said he is trying to get these issues back on the ballot because Clean Missouri was passed even though many people did not understand everything they were voting on.
“I’ve heard from numerous constituents who voted for the amendments two years ago without realizing that it changed our state’s redistricting process,” Hegeman said. “They simply thought that it banned lobbyist gifts.”
Democratic senators disagreed vehemently with that notion, questioning what about this legislation will ensure voters understand it.
“The voters in every single district in the state passed Clean Missouri. I think they knew what they were voting for because I trust our voters to make good decisions,” Senator Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, said.
“What I see in this bill now is ethics reform and redistricting. What about this is going to help those that didn’t understand it last time, understand it this time?” Schupp said.
Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, sided with Schupp, arguing that the people's original decision should be respected.
“Clean (Missouri) came from the people,” Sifton said. “Missourians across the state signed a petition. It was an initiative petition from the grassroots of the voters of Missouri … it came from the people, not the politicians.”
Despite pushback from the Democrats, Republicans argue that this measure ultimately would still be left up to the people and keeps the essence of Clean Missouri alive.
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, email@example.com.