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House redistricting hearing draws few comments

House redistricting hearing draws few comments

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JEFFERSON CITY -- The House Redistricting Committee held a public hearing on a proposed congressional map today and nobody came. Well, that's not quite true. Three people testified.

At issue was a map redrawing Missouri's nine congressional districts into eight, as required by the 2010 census.The plan, by the Republican chairman, John Diehl of Town and Country, effectively eliminates one St. Louis Democratic congressman.

But the main complaint at the hearing came from rural residents, who feared their clout would be diluted if they became part of urban-oriented districts.

Marc Ellinger, a Jefferson City attorney, disliked putting Cole County into the new 3rd District, which would stretch from Lake of the Ozarks to the suburban "collar counties" around St. Louis.

Rep. Joe Aull, D-Marshall, was similarly unenthused about putting his home county, Saline, into a Kansas City-dominated 5th District.

That theme also surfaced from some southeastern Missouri senators, who are expressing concerns that their rural voices would be drowned out by including half of Jefferson County in the 8th District.

"The issues important to St. Louis are not the same issues important to southeast Missouri," Sen. Jason Crowell, R-Cape Girardeau, said in a statement.

More maps will be on the table by next week.

The Senate Redistricting Committee is expected to unveil its plan Monday. The House committee will consider Diehl's map -- and any alternatives -- on Tuesday.

Diehl cautioned that anyone with a suggestion must prepare an entire statewide map, not just a single boundary change.

House Democrats said they will have a plan. One goal:  keeping Jefferson County in a single congressional district.

“We are a metropolitan county and we want to be kept as such,” said Rep. Ron Casey, D-Crystal City and a member of the redistricting committee.



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