Gerrymandering Plan Defeated for 2019 Session

Jefferson City politicians’ gerrymandering plan (HJR48) was defeated this week in the State Senate after a massive citizen response to defend the fair map requirements in Amendment 1 that passed in a landslide in November.The Clean Missouri coalition released the following statement today regarding the defeat of HJR48 and passage of SB213:

“More than 300,000 Missourians signed petitions to put Amendment 1 on the ballot, and then 1,469,093 voted to put the rules for maps maps and a more ethical  legislature into our state constitution. We’ve tracked more than 10,000 phone calls and messages into the State Capitol about politicians’ attempts to undo their mandate — and we know that’s just a fraction of what citizens have been doing in the past few weeks.

“We are glad to see the HJR48 gerrymandering plan set aside — but we know the lobbyists and politicians who pushed for this outrageous proposal aren’t giving up.

“We also know the massive bipartisan coalition that fought for two years to pass redistricting and ethics reforms aren’t going to give up in their fight for a responsive, accountable, and transparent state government.

“We are pleased to see SB213 sent to Governor Parson, which will establish good rules for the nonpartisan state demographer and empower citizens to be more engaged in the upcoming redistricting process. Voters have demanded an open and fair map creation process, and SB213 is a good next step to implementing what voters have approved.”

If HJR48 had been passed into law:

  • Fair map rules would have been gutted. The clear and transparent criteria in the constitution requiring fair maps and protecting the voting power of communities of color would have been gutted or dramatically weakened.
  • Lobbyists and political appointees would have free reign to gerrymandering maps. A huge ‘compactness’ loophole would have allowed lobbyists and political appointees to split communities and gerrymander maps.
  • Redistricting would happen in secretive back rooms. The redistricting process would have become more secretive, and would have happened in back rooms instead of in public view.
  • The process would have been even more political than it has been in the past. Independence added to process with nonpartisan state demographer role would be gone, and state political parties would be given even more control for future redistricting processes.

HJR48 was forced through the State House despite bipartisan opposition, and championed by Sen. Caleb Rowden in the State Senate. It was defeated this week in the Senate Fiscal Oversight Committee, however.

Rules for fair state legislative maps in our state constitution right now:

  • ensure no party will have an unfair advantage in future state legislative map plans
  • require data used in the crafting of draft maps to be made public
  • protect the voting power of communities of color against vote dilution, and
  • limit the influence of lobbyists and political appointees who have run the process in past redistricting cycles.


The Clean Missouri coalition remains committed to defending fair maps mandate passed by 1.47MM Missourians.

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Missouri leaders and national experts praise Amendment 1’s strong protections for the voting power of communities of color

Redistricting experts say that language in Amendment 1 will make Missouri a national leader in protecting the voting power of communities of color

Language to protect and expand the political power of racial and language minorities reads as follows, and is explicitly listed as more important than other criteria that will be used to evaluate future redistricting plans for the General Assembly:

Districts shall be established in a manner so as to comply with all requirements of the United States Constitution and applicable federal laws, including, but not limited to, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (as amended). Notwithstanding any other provision of this Article, districts shall not be drawn with the intent or result of denying or abridging the equal opportunity of racial or language minorities to participate in the political process or diminishing their ability to elect representatives of their choice, whether by themselves or by voting in concert with other persons.

Michael Li, Senior Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice explains what this means:

“At a time when the scope of future federal protections becomes more uncertain, Amendment 1 would make Missouri a national leader in protecting the voting power of communities of color. The proposal is absolutely clear—districts must be drawn to allow minority voters to elect their preferred candidates. And, if their political power is at all diminished, voters of color could bring a challenge. Passing Amendment 1 would be a major voting rights victory.”

Justin Levitt, Professor at Loyola Law School, a national redistricting expert:

“It’s evident from the drafting that the initiative’s authors spent a great deal of time and attention on the particular phrasing, especially on the provision concerning minority rights.  It’s carefully calibrated, and designed to account both for Supreme Court precedent and for practicalities on the ground. It’s true that the courts have addressed race and redistricting a fair amount recently, but no Supreme Court case – out of Texas or otherwise – keeps Missouri from doing what the initiative proposes.”

Greg Moore, former Executive Director of the NAACP National Voter Fund, and a statewide leader in the Ohio Fair Districts = Fair Elections Coalition:

“The state of Missouri, like Ohio earlier this year, has a rare opportunity to take a giant leap forward to advance fair districts, roll back corruption in state government and protect minority voting rights by supporting the Clean Missouri Initiative on the November 6 ballot. This year we are witnessing an unprecedented wave of citizens across the country working together to build stronger, more representative and more responsive state and local governments. African Americans and all voters of Color will be key to the success of this historic effort in Missouri. Support Amendment 1. Please don’t miss this opportunity to let our voices be heard!”

Nimrod “Rod” Chapel, Jr., President of the NAACP Missouri State Conference and civil rights attorney:

“Opponents of Amendment 1 are spewing lies to protect the broken status quo, because they know they can’t win on the merits. We’re excited to keep sharing the facts on what Amendment 1 will do with voters, and why it’s so important to pass this desperately-needed measure to move Missouri forward.”

Former St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley:

“When big money and big lobbyists speak the loudest in Jefferson City, the voices of the people back home get drowned out. Amendment 1 will change that, and be a great first step to getting our state pointed back in a good direction.

“Amendment 1 will also make Missouri a national leader in protecting the voting power of communities of color. The plain language of the measure requires that districts be drawn to allow minority voters to elect their preferred candidates, and makes sure that protections for people of color outrank other criteria. That’s huge, and is a big reason why I’m so excited to be voting yes on November 6.”

Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams, pastor of the Swope Parkway United Christian Church, president of the Kansas City Chapter of the NAACP, and Board Chair for Missouri Faith Voices:

“We need Amendment 1, the Clean Missouri initiative, to clean up Missouri politics, take power away from big money and make our voices matter more in Jefferson City. The amendment would eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts, decrease the influence of big money in the General Assembly and require transparent records and meetings. It would require fair state legislative maps so politicians are no longer protected by safe, gerrymandered districts. It would also protect minority voting rights.”

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones:

“Amendment 1 enshrines the Voting Rights Act into the Missouri Constitution to protect our right to vote in majority-minority districts. Amendment 1 puts working families first, instead of lobbyists and big money.”

Amendment 1 will ensure neither political party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the next census, by requiring a nonpartisan expert to draw fair legislative district maps, which would then be reviewed by a citizen commission.

Read the full Amendment 1 policy here.

 

Amendment 1 will also:

  • Eliminate almost all lobbyist gifts in the General Assembly, by banning any gift worth more than $5.
  • Require politicians to wait two years before becoming lobbyists, after the conclusion of their final legislative session.
  • Lower campaign contribution limits for state legislative candidates to limit the influence of big money and lobbyists in state government.
    • Establish new campaign contribution limits for General Assembly candidates — $2,500 for state senate, and $2,000 for state house.
    • Limit the ability of individuals and organizations to circumvent caps by counting money from single-source committees towards totals for original, actual donors.
    • Stop legislative fundraising on state property.
  • Require legislative meetings and records be open to the public by ensuring that the legislature operate under the same open records law as other public entities in Missouri.

Amendment 1 endorsements include:

  • Organization for Black Struggle
  • Missouri Jobs With Justice
  • A. Philip Randolph Institute – St. Louis Chapter
  • Campaign Legal Center
  • Coalition of Black Trade Unionists
  • Common Cause
  • Communities Creating Opportunity
  • DEMOS
  • Metropolitan Congregations United
  • Missouri AFL-CIO
  • Missouri Faith Voices
  • Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys
  • MORE2
  • NAACP Missouri State Conference
  • Service Employees International Union
  • The League of Women Voters

Amendment 1 has also been endorsed by Rev. Starsky Wilson, Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams, Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould, Pastor Michael Brooks, Rev. Tex Sample, St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones, the St. Louis American, Washington Missourian, Kansas City Star, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Columbia Daily Tribune.

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Report: How Missouri Lawmakers Ignore the Sunshine Law

Clean Missouri has released a new report on the lack of transparency in the General Assembly, by the numbers—with some colorful stories.

Official meetings are supposed to be open to the public, but there have been government meetings held in private country clubs, and journalists have even been denied access to public hearings. The state legislature even keeps their own records secret, yet expects others to follow open government laws.

A recent Missouri court ruling has allowed the legislature to essentially ignore some of the Sunshine Law, despite bipartisan agreement that the Missouri General Assembly needs to be more transparent and accountable.

A few highlights:

  • Both Republican and Democratic State Auditors have called for the legislature to come into compliance with the Sunshine Law.
  • Legislators from both parties have refused to turn over their emails to reporters in Sunshine requests. At the same time, legislators from both parties have demonstrated that compliance is possible.
  • Reporters and citizens have been denied the right to record public hearings.
  • Legislative committees have met in private country clubs and restaurants instead of publicly accessible hearing rooms where proceedings may have been recorded. Beyond what has been disclosed in lobbyist gift records, official House journals show committees have held sham hearings all over Jefferson City at private locations — including 16 at the Jefferson City Country Club and an additional 16 times at other eateries around town. At least seven sham hearings were held in the offices of special interests with business before the state.

The full report is available at http://www.cleanmissouri.org/sunshine.

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Report: Missouri Lawmakers Take An Average of $885,000 in Lobbyist Gifts Every Year

Today, Clean Missouri released a new report on the Jeff City lobbyist gift culture, by the numbers—with a few colorful stories, as well.

A few highlights:

  • Lobbyists have reported giving an average of $885,020 in gifts to the Missouri General Assembly every year, for years 2004-2017.
  • The reported gift total for 2017 of $1,070,653 is the highest on record at the Missouri Ethics Commision. The second highest reported total was $1,006,050 in 2006. In just the first few months of 2018 for which records are available, legislators had already taken $248,004 in freebies.
  • Almost 70% of the gifts reported since 2004 — more than $8 million worth — have been reported as going to legislative caucuses, committees, and groups. This loophole in reporting effectively hides from public view which legislators, staffers and family members are taking most of the gifts in Missouri.
  • Missouri’s lobbyist gift culture crosses partisan lines. Of the top 10 gift recipients from 2004 to 2018, six have been Democratic lawmakers, four Republicans. Meanwhile, a growing bipartisan group of House and Senate leaders have sworn off gifts entirely, showing the way forward for a gift-free Jefferson City. Forty-seven state representatives and ten state senators have zero dollar balances for 2018 in the Missouri Ethics Commission’s lobbyist gift database.
  • Legislative leadership has repeatedly broken promises and failed to reform lobbyist gifts. Dozens of reform bills have been filed in the past decade, by legislators of both parties — but the General Assembly remains a no-limits world when it comes to free booze, food, tickets, junkets and other gifts.
  • Every one of our bordering states has stronger limits on lobbyist gifts than Missouri.

The full report is available at http://www.cleanmissouri.org/lobbyists.

Missourians will have the opportunity to end Jefferson City’s lobbyist gift culture for good by passing the Clean Missouri initiative on the November ballot. The Clean Missouri measure will ban any single gift worth more than $5. Full initiative text is available here.

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