On Nov. 6, Missouri voters overwhelmingly supported Amendment 1 to clean up Missouri politics.
Large majorities of Republicans, Democrats and Independents — Missourians white, black and brown — united to take power away from special interests and give it to the people. The Clean Missouri initiative won over 70 percent of Trump counties, and far more votes than either Josh Hawley or Claire McCaskill.
Yet powerful lobbyists, and a few politicians, are already talking about trying to undermine the will of the people. They’re discussing lawsuits and sneaky legislative tactics to gut these desperately needed reforms.
Let’s be clear: Missourians voted for Amendment 1 for more transparency, fairness and competitiveness. Those are the new norms, and the powers-that-be are terrified.
If you’re reading this and you voted for Clean Missouri, then go tell your legislators: “Respect our vote.”
Bipartisan reformers supported Amendment 1 to improve Missouri’s redistricting process, using nationally recognized best practices. Clean Missouri requires an independent expert to follow clear criteria. Maps are reviewed by a citizen commission, and all data must be transparent. Red, blue and purple states, like Utah, Michigan and Colorado, made similar updates on Election Day by requiring more independence, transparency, fairness and competitiveness to put voters first, instead of partisan games.
Former Sen. John Danforth supported Amendment 1’s requirements for more fairness and competitiveness in redistricting after advocating for similar policy at the federal level. He joined the late Sen. John McCain, former Sen. Bob Dole, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Gov. John Kasich and other Republican leaders who filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court advocating for the same principles contained in Amendment 1. Our old colleague, Missouri Sen. Bob Johnson, R-Lee’s Summit, advocated for fair redistricting years before becoming an early supporter of Clean Missouri.
As Danforth said, “Amendment 1 will ensure fair and competitive elections so elected officials cannot take their voters for granted and must earn their support.”
Civil rights leaders also united for Amendment 1. The NAACP, Organization for Black Struggle, the Brennan Center for Justice, Missouri Faith Voices and many others fought for Amendment 1 because it will make Missouri a national leader in protecting the voting power of communities of color.
For too long, both Democrats and Republicans have used minority communities for political gain. Amendment 1 guarantees minority communities the ability to elect representatives of their choice.
NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote in this paper, the week before the election, “Passing Amendment 1 would give Missourians the rights and tools necessary to challenge unfair or racist gerrymandering — rights that currently do not exist in the state or federal law.”
Beyond redistricting, Amendment 1 was a big step to give voters a greater voice in Jefferson City, rather than just lobbyists and big money.
No longer will legislators be distracted from the people’s business by taking lavish gifts from lobbyists, like international travel and $5,000 steak dinners. Amendment 1 stops expensive lobbyist gifts with a $5 limit.
No longer can legislators leave office to quickly take jobs as lobbyists for special interests, leaving voters wondering who they really represented in their final terms. Amendment 1 stops legislators from becoming lobbyists for two years after leaving office.
No longer can legislators kick citizens and reporters out of committee hearings for recording debates and votes on iPhones or TV cameras. Amendment 1 requires the Legislature to follow the same requirements of open meetings and records as other public entities in Missouri.
And no longer can legislators solicit campaign donations at the Capitol, nor accept unlimited donations that billionaires route through unlimited PACs. Amendment 1 helps stop big money in our Legislature.
Abraham Lincoln’s vision of “government of, by, and for the people” means passing reforms to guarantee that vision — and then respecting the people’s desire for those reforms.
Clean Missouri was a great win for the people to limit the power of lobbyists and unaccountable politicians.
To finish the job, we must speak loudly and clearly to the Legislature.
Join us. Call 573-751-2000, ask for your legislator, and tell them: “Respect the vote of the people of Missouri. Leave Amendment 1 alone. Let’s move forward, not back, to clean up Missouri politics.”
Democrat Tishaura O. Jones is the treasurer of St. Louis city and served as assistant minority floor leader in the Missouri House of Representatives. Republican Sen. Rob Schaaf represents Buchanan and Platte counties in the Missouri Senate.