Originally posted in Public News Service on March 12th, 2019.
Grassroots activists are in Jefferson City today to tell state lawmakers to keep the anti-gerrymandering “Clean Missouri” measure the way it is.
Amendment 1 passed with 62 percent of the vote last fall. But since the start of this year’s session, state lawmakers have been calling for changes. Among them is a proposal requiring a bipartisan commission to approve district redrawing, which would weaken the nonpartisan state demographer central to the amendment.
Kevin Grooms, a Sierra Club member in Kansas City who gathered signatures for Amendment 1, said the point of the measure was to give people a voice in elections.
“We’re just trying to make a district fair and actually make it a toss-up and not a foregone conclusion, and not something that a person’s vote in that district doesn’t matter,” Grooms said.
The amendment takes the redistricting process away from legislators and gives the power to redraw the political map after the 2020 Census to a nonpartisan demographer, whose work would be overseen by a citizen commission.
Grooms also is concerned about efforts to roll back rules in the amendment requiring legislative records and proceedings to be open to the public. Lawmakers in favor of the change say it’s necessary to protect personal information they receive from constituents.
Martha Lafata is a Sierra Club member in the Saint Louis area who also gathered signatures for Clean Missouri. She said lawmakers should respect the will of the voters.
“If people vote for something, you would think that that would be good enough, that they would leave things as is,” Lafata said. “But they just keep trying to, once again, change things in their favor.”
To combat the influence big-money donors have on elections, Amendment 1 would limit the donation dollars that legislators can take from any individual. It also requires former state lawmakers to wait two years after leaving office before they can become lobbyists.