Originally in the Columbia Daily Tribune on October 28, 2018:
Ballot Amendment 1, better known as Clean Missouri, isn’t perfect. If it has one key fault it’s that the amendment might be trying to do too much.
But trying to do too much, in this case, is better than doing nothing at all.
Clean Missouri’s aim matches its name, to clean up and prevent corruption big and small that has invaded statewide politics.
If passed by voters Nov. 5, Amendment 1 would:
Impose a $5 limit on the value of lobbyists’ gifts to lawmakers.
Bar former lawmakers and legislative staff from working as lobbyists for two years after leaving office.
Limit campaign donations to $2,500 to candidates for the state Senate and $2,000 to candidates for the Missouri House.
Count donations to legislative candidates from political action committees that have one donor that provides more than 50 percent of the funding against that donor’s personal limit for candidate donations.
Establish an office known as the state demographer to draw House and Senate districts to be competitive between the two major parties, with other provisions intended to make the districts compact, with lines that do not cross the boundaries of political subdivisions.
None of these changes would harm voters or the electoral process. It will help reign in harmful practices that give special interests and partisan politicking a louder voice than Missouri voters.
The limit on campaign gifts is overdue. Whenever a politician accepts gifts, whether it be a t-bone dinner or event tickets, the appearance of impropriety can’t be escaped. The truth is some politicians can be influenced by such gifts. Lobbyists will tell you that gifts don’t impact public policy debates. If that were true then why bother with gift-giving at all? The practice’s existence is proof of its usefulness.
Most importantly, however, is the role Amendment 1 will play in cleaning up Missouri’s gerrymandered mess when it comes to legislative districts. Boone County is a perfect example of this.
In Missouri’s 50th House District, it’s impossible to travel from one side to the other without using a boat to cross the Missouri River or driving outside the district. The 44th House District snakes south across the Randolph County and Boone County border to encompass most of Columbia’s Third Ward. The 47th House District, like the 44th and 50th, also crosses county lines.
Columbia alone is large enough to fit three House districts inside it. Instead only the 45th and 46th House Districts are contained within its borders. This has minimized the voice and will of Columbia residents in the Missouri General Assembly.
Amendment 1 will honor existing geographical and political boundaries. That alone makes this amendment a necessary yes vote on Nov. 6.