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Missouri Republican bundles redistricting repeal with other ethics changes

Missouri Republican bundles redistricting repeal with other ethics changes

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JEFFERSON CITY — A western Missouri Republican wants voters to ban lobbyist gifts and further restrict campaign contributions, but that’s not all.

Sen. Dan Hegeman, R-Cosby, also wants voters to repeal the redistricting system they approved in 2018 through Amendment 1, or Clean Missouri.

Like Clean Missouri, Hegeman has bundled his redistricting proposal with other items likely popular with voters.

Republicans have long said Clean Missouri backers disguised controversial redistricting changes by proposing them in tandem with other ethics reforms.

Clean Missouri in 2018 limited lobbyist gifts to $5, subjected lawmakers to the Sunshine Law, reduced campaign contribution limits, instituted a two-year cooling-off period for lawmakers-turned-lobbyists, and placed redistricting responsibilities in the hands of a “nonpartisan demographer.”

Hegeman’s resolution, which requires approval by the GOP-controlled Senate and House before being placed on the ballot, would ask voters to ban all lobbyist gifts and reduce campaign contribution to Senate candidates from $2,500 to $2,000.

He would also place redistricting powers in the hands of a bipartisan commission instead of the nonpartisan demographer.

“This will give voters another opportunity to weigh in on this monumental change,” Hegeman told the Senate Rules Committee on Tuesday.

Opponents have said the measure would give politicians and political parties outsized influence on the redistricting process, encouraging horse-trading and accommodations for incumbents.

They say a bipartisan commission will still exist, and may make changes to the demographer’s map if 70% of members approve.

The current redistricting system gives the Senate majority and minority leaders the ability to choose the nonpartisan demographer once the state auditor forwards completed applications to the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, and Senate Minority Leader Gina Walsh, D-Bellefontaine Neighbors, said last week said the hiring process was moving forward for the demographer despite Republican efforts to scrap the position.

On Tuesday, Rowden, who chairs the rules committee, implied none of the six applicants were suited for the role of state demographer.

“You’re going to be sorely disappointed in the candidates,” Rowden told a person who gave testimony in support of the nonpartisan demographer. 

The legislation is Senate Joint Resolution 38.

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