JEFFERSON CITY — Clean Missouri just got one step closer to reappearing on November’s ballot.
On Monday night, the Missouri Senate voted 22-9 in favor of Senate Joint Resolution 38, sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, on Monday, which would change amendments that were made to the Missouri Constitution in fall of 2018.
Only one Republican, Sen. Lincoln Hough of Springfield, joined Democrats in voting against the bill. He and other opponents said voters already made their opinions known when they passed Clean Missouri in 2018, while those in favor of a second referendum believe voters didn’t understand what they were doing.
The proposed changes to Clean Missouri include:
- Eliminating the role of a “nonpartisan state demographer” and reverting to a system where the lines are drawn by bipartisan commissions appointed by the governor.
- Changing the lobbyist gift threshold from $5 to zero.
- Reducing the limit on contributions given to or received by candidates.
Hough represents Springfield, which voted 65% in favor of Clean Missouri. The state of Missouri as a whole voted 62% in favor.
Hough said that while he understands the desire to eliminate lobbyists gifts, he also doesn’t want to dismiss what voters said in 2018.
“I don’t discount what the voters do, and I think if you’re kind of true to your job as a representative democracy, you listen to the people that you represent,” Hough said, adding that he didn’t think “we” should pick and choose what “we” think voters did or did not understand.
Sen. Jill Schupp, D-Creve Coeur, opposed the bill, saying that she was confused at Republicans’ claim that voters were confused with the amendment when the proposed changes would put it before them in much the same way as it was in 2018.
“People want a fair shake, they want their vote to count, they want to get rid of the partisan gerrymandering in the drawing of districts and I think they were very clear in supporting ... a nonpartisan demographer who would draw those lines seeking, where possible, partisan fairness in how maps were drawn,” Schupp said.
Sen. Scott Sifton, D-Affton, also voiced his opposition to the bill, joining Schupp in saying that he didn’t want their “no” votes to be viewed as support for lobbyist gifts.
At a meeting of the Senate Fiscal Oversight committee, senators voted the resolution out of committee, meaning it could be discussed on the Senate floor. The committee also approved the resolution’s fiscal note, or estimated cost if implemented. If the amendment is put on this year’s ballot, the cost is zero.
Sen. Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, emphasized the time-sensitive nature of this legislation as part of his motivation for his “yes” vote, explaining that if the issue of redistricting is not taken up now, the chance to address what he called a “glaring deficiency in the way maps were drawn,” would not come again until the next census, ten years in the future.
District lines will be redrawn based on the 2020 census, and this is lawmakers’ last chance to impact that process.
Rowden also said claims that the bill undoes the will of the people are “not factually true,” because the resolution would put the issue back in front of the voters, and that one reason he voted yes is because he felt there was too much power given to the state demographer, though that position has not been filled yet.
“I think having a bipartisan commission and multiple individuals with multiple perspectives at the table, I think is a much better view, and I think actually leads to a much fairer and more equitable map,” Rowden said.
The resolution now heads to the House.
Supervising editor is Mark Horvit, email@example.com.