Joplin Globe: Yes on 1

Originally posted in the Joplin Globe on October 25, 2018

It has been a hard fight to get before Missouri voters Amendment 1 — a multi-faceted proposal that, if approved, will change the rules that govern lobbying, campaign donations, open records and redistricting.

Specifically, it will require lawmakers and staff members to wait two years after the conclusion of their last legislative session before they can become paid lobbyists. Missouri’s prohibition is currently too short at just six months. This is an improvement.

It also would prohibit lawmakers and their staffs from accepting gifts from paid lobbyists in excess of $5. This is long needed, and frankly, it won’t come from lawmakers.

Amendment 1 also requires that all legislative records, including legislative proceedings, be considered public records — again, a gimme that is much needed, and one we will never see happen through legislative action.

The amendment also includes restrictions on campaign contributions for lawmakers — $2,500 for state Senate candidates, $2,000 for state House candidates. This is not much different from the $2,600 cap we have now.

More uncertain for us is the redistricting component to Amendment 1. Missouri’s legislative districts are redrawn every 10 years after the U.S. census. We agree with the goals of proponents, who want a more transparent, nonpartisan mechanism that results in more competitive districts. That would be good for democracy statewide. Currently, about 90 percent of Missouri’s districts are not competitive, meaning they are either safe Democratic or safe Republican seats. This undermines lawmaker accountability to voters.

While most of Southwest Missouri would remain dominated by Republican districts, this is not just about us. This is also about preventing what proponents call “vote dilution” from gerrymandering. Will this new plan get us there? Candidly, we’re not sure, but we know the current mechanism isn’t working.

Under the current system, new district maps are drawn by two bipartisan commissions, one from the House and one for the Senate. Each commission’s legislative district plan has to be approved by 70 percent of its members. If the maps fail to get 70 percent, the Missouri Supreme Court appoints a commission of six state appellate judges to draw up new maps. Missouri’s legislative districts were last redrawn in 2011, and it required the use of the court-appointed judges. It is naive to think we won’t be heading back to the judges after the 2020 census.

Amendment 1 creates the position of a “nonpartisan” state demographer who will be responsible for drawing up legislative redistricting maps and presenting them to House and Senate apportionment commissions. The proposal also outlines criteria the demographer must use when redistricting. The state auditor would compile the list of candidates for the position, and no person who served in a partisan, elected position during the four-year period before the selection for the demographer could apply, and anyone who takes the job would be prohibited from serving as a legislator for four years afterward.

Whether this new method will do any better removing partisanship from redistricting remains to be seen, but on balance, we’re willing to give Amendment 1 a shot. We recommend a “yes” on Nov. 6.


Columbia Daily Tribune Endorses Amendment 1

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.


KC Call: Yes on 1

Originally in the Kansas City Call on October 26, 2018

Missouri Constitutional Amendment 1

This amendment, also known as “Clean Missouri,” concerns post-census, independent non-partisan reapportioning
of state House and Senate Districts; limits on campaign contributions and limits on lobbying,
including gifts and also bans political fundraising on government property.

Recommendation: VOTE YES


National NAACP President and CEO: Yes on Amendment 1

By Derrick Johnson, national President and CEO of the NAACP

Missouri voters currently have a rare opportunity in their hands: the chance to strike a victory for fairness and ethics in politics. As lifelong champions for civil rights, we know occurrences like this are too hard-won to be squandered.

The fight for justice in Missouri starts with restoring integrity, transparency, and accountability in our state government. Amendment 1 gives us a rare shot for desperately needed reforms to give power to the people.

Amendment 1 would make Missouri a national leader in protecting the voting power of communities of color. It requires that maps shall not result in “diminishing [racial or language minorities’] ability to elect representatives of their choice.” 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.

Amendment 1 would also eliminate gifts from lobbyists and require all legislative meetings and records to be open to the public. It would lower campaign contribution limits to put support for candidates within the reach of everyday Missourians—not just those with a corporate checkbook. And most importantly, it enshrines the Voting Rights Act into the Missouri Constitution to protect the rights of communities of color to be represented in the legislature. State leaders of conscience should welcome the chance to be held to the highest standards.

The fact is, big donors have too long held sway over Missouri politicians. Is it any wonder special interests’ wish lists end up far ahead of the needs of everyday constituents? Some might say the system is broken. We say it’s working exactly as it was designed — for the wealthy and well connected, and not for you and me.

Why do you think the legislature legalized discrimination by pushing a law that disenfranchises 220,000 voting-age Missourians who lack a state-issued photo ID? They are doing all they can to silence the voices of black, brown and young voters; and the folks working swing shifts or hourly jobs can’t leave their places of employment to get to the polls.

Of course, some politicians, powerful lobbyists, and big money donors are trying to stop Amendment 1. Why else would they want to eliminate all expensive lobbyist gifts when they take an average of nearly $900,000 every year in free trips, carts of liquor, and concert tickets?

They don’t want to stop big money to their own campaigns, or follow the Sunshine Law to make meetings and records open to the public. Instead, they have kept their records secret and kicked citizens and reporters out of public hearings. They don’t want to make districts more competitive, so that they can cater to big donors while ignoring voters back home.

The NAACP has a proud history of fighting for political equality for all citizens, which is why we are in full support of Amendment 1. It’s time we clean up Missouri politics and Amendment 1’s policies are strong reforms that have been vetted and endorsed by the Rev. Dr. Rodney E. Williams, NAACP Missouri State Conference, Missouri Jobs With Justice, Demos, MORE2, Pastor Michael Brooks, Communities Creating Opportunity, Rev. Tex Sample, Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould and Missouri Faith Voices.

A “yes” vote for Clean Missouri (Amendment 1), is a vote to put the power of our democracy back where it belongs—in the hands of the people. We cannot let this opportunity go to waste.

Learn more and get involved at Then vote YES on Amendment 1 this November to clean up Missouri politics.

Posted in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on October 30, 2018.


News-Leader: Yes on 1

Originally in the Springfield News-Leader on October 27, 2018

The Clean Missouri amendment aims to tackle inequities in the current political environment in Missouri. It is a strong effort to limit the effect of dark money and lobbyist money on the legislative process.

The redistricting effort is the more controversial aspect of this proposal. It is a complicated mechanism, but it is also designed to be a transparent one. All data will be subject to the Sunshine Law – which it currently is not. It is not a perfect method, but it is an improvement over what we currently have and offers a mechanism to keep track of how the work of redistricting is being done. If complications develop, this will allow voters to make an educated choice to improve this process in the future.

We endorse Amendment 1 as a strong step forward for the voice of all Missourians.


Kirksville Daily Express: Yes on 1

Originally in the Kirksville Daily Express on October 27, 2018

A popular refrain from partisans on both sides of the aisle in recent years has been something with regards to “taking back” our country.

If Missourians want to take back our state, a good place to start is with a “yes” vote on Amendment 1.

While we have long been supportive of campaign finance reform measures, loyal readers should recall that we did not endorse Amendment 2 in 2016. Of that issue we said, “We feel this amendment may have the unintended consequence of moving money out of the light and into the darkness of political action committees.”

Almost 70 percent of Missourians disagreed, Amendment 2 became law, and Missouri’s campaign finance system became more of a mess than one thought possible. It has become increasingly difficult to track campaign donations, and the influence of wealthy donors was not curbed one iota. Instead, dummy political action committees have sprung from the earth and used to easily (and legally) circumvent Amendment 2.

There is no quick fix to our state’s campaign finance laws (or lack thereof) but Amendment 1 takes smart, efficient steps in the right direction. In addition to furthering the limits on total donations, the amendment moves to reduce some of the ways political action committees can be established to abuse the system. If 50 percent or more of a PAC’s funding comes from one source, dollars spent by that PAC to fund a candidate’s campaign would be counted toward that original source’s limit.

This is key. While we are all subject to a $2,600 limit in donations to candidates for the Missouri House or Senate, there is really nothing stopping anyone from setting up 10 political action committees, writing 10 $2,600 checks to those political action committees, and then those committees directing all of that money to a single candidate. Sure, PAC donors are not supposed to direct PAC spending, but while it might be obvious it’s happening, proving it is another story.

And if you think that scenario is outlandish, spend a few hours digging through Missouri Ethics Commission reports. We have. It happens.

Amendment 1 also rolls back to $5 the amount lobbyists can spend on a single gift to elected officials. Lobbyists have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on Missouri lawmakers in 2018, from steak dinners to event tickets and more. Some lawmakers say these gifts do little to influence their policy decisions, and in some cases that may be true. But if you’re asking us to believe all lawmakers are above this influence, standing ready to bite the hand that’s literally feeding them, we have a hard time accepting that.

Finally, Amendment 1 gets politics out of redistricting, instead using a nonpartisan expert called “math” to create fair, competitive legislative districts. Regardless of what political party you support, we should all agree that competitive elections encourage better candidates and ideas. Those are winning qualities for us all.

Democrats and Republicans, both those currently serving in office and who are retired, have come out to offer Amendment 1 bipartisan support.

The group opposing Amendment 1 is funded solely by St. Louis billionaire Rex Sinquefield.

Let’s take a step toward cleaning up state politics. Let’s vote “yes” on Amendment 1.


Jeff Co Leader: Yes on 1

Originally in the Jefferson County Leader on October 17, 2018

One of the fun things about my job is its capacity to surprise me. It happened twice last week, and the same fellow was responsible both times.

His name is Terry Beckmeyer and he lives in New Haven, a small town (2,000 residents) in Franklin County about 70 miles northwest of Jefferson County.

A while back, he wrote a letter to the editor, asking if the Leader was aware that our guy, state Sen. Paul Wieland, R-Imperial, has been the No. 1 recipient of lobbyist gifts among the Legislature’s 250 members over the last four years – from 2015 to midway through this year.

It’s trackable because Missouri law requires registered lobbyists to file monthly reports with the Missouri Ethics Commission detailing what they give to elected officials, their staff members and their families.

I didn’t want to print Beckmeyer’s letter because space is limited on the Opinions Page and we reserve it for local folks, but managing editor Kim Robertson handed over the letter to Leader political reporter Steve Taylor to check out.

Taylor went to the website Beckmeyer suggested and verified the claim. The resulting Oct. 4 Page 1 story confirmed that Wieland’s lobbyist take of $23,690 since 2015 is tops in the state. That was information I didn’t know. But it wasn’t either of the big surprises.

Wieland made the case in our story that lobbyists have something he needs to be an effective legislator – information – and added that his vote can’t be bought with a meal or a sports ticket, typical of the gifts he had accepted.

“I could sit in my office and not socialize with anyone and on these lobbyists’ reports look like a good little choir boy, but I wouldn’t be getting anything done. I’d be a terrible legislator,” said Wieland, whose 22nd District takes in the north half of Jefferson County.

It’s not unusual for politicians to say, and mean it, that their votes are not for sale. Wieland’s comment was echoed in the story by state Sen. Gary Romine, R-Farmington, who represents south Jefferson County and accepted $9,230.70 in gifts over the four years, and 113th state Rep. Dan Shaul, R-Imperial, who accepted $4,246 in gifts.

Although we interviewed only those three, all Jefferson County legislators since 2015 (except for new 97th District state Rep. Mike Revis, D-Fenton) have received gifts from lobbyists, and here’s a good guess each one of those officials would disavow being influenced.

I should point out, however, that since 2004, lobbyists who were advocating positions with Missouri legislators reportedly plied the politicos with gifts averaging nearly $900,000 a year in eat, drink, tickets, travel, etc.

Clearly, those footing the bill must think they’re buying something.

Ta-da! Time to tell you what surprised me. Our story was legitimate no matter who put us up to it, but I figured Beckmeyer might not be a real person, or might be a Democratic operative, or might be related to Bob Butler, Wieland’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 6 election.

I thought I’d be writing a column today about how the press sometimes LETS itself be manipulated for the greater good.

So, I called Beckmeyer. Turns out he’s a real person, a self-described “curmudgeon” who was looking up information about his own state rep when he spotted Wieland’s total. He thought he should inform our voters.

Don’t call Beckmeyer a Democrat. “I’m a proud independent!” he declared.

Retired for the past eight years, Beckmeyer said he has devoted much of his time to researching “unscrupulous” political activity. His primary focus at present, he said, is Missouri’s new voter ID law, which he opposes.

Beckmeyer’s resume was the first shock to my system.

The second came when I asked him his position on Amendment 1 – the “Clean Missouri” initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot. The proposal seeks more transparency in legislative records and proceedings; would set limits on campaign donations; would change the process for redrawing legislative districts to make the end result less partisan … and, drum roll.

It would ban any gift from lobbyists worth more than $5.

Beckmeyer is squarely for this, right?

Uh, not necessarily.

Echoing Amendment 1 opponents who went to court trying unsuccessfully to block the vote, Beckmeyer is afraid the proposal is taking on too much in one fell swoop.

“I’m confused by Amendment 1,” he said. “There are too many issues going on. Any one of those things is a significant issue by itself, and in the end, they might not turn out to be what they are intended to be.”

He said he might have to wait until Election Day for a last-minute gut check to guide his vote.

My gut says Missouri needs Amendment 1. The Legislature has confronted these issues many times and failed to make any headway. It’s past time for voters to step in.

Romine and Shaul told Taylor they would like to see lobbyists’ gifts go away.

“I’ve voted every time to get rid of accepting lobbyists’ gifts, and I will again,” Shaul said. “But until the rules are changed, I’ll play by the rules we’re given.”

Hey, Missouri voters, why don’t you and I change the rules?

We have our chance in 26 days.


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
  • 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.


We’re on TV! Watch to learn how Amendment 1 will clean up Missouri politics

Today, the campaign for Amendment 1 began airing its first TV ad to inform Missouri voters of how it will clean up Missouri politics, as well as its broad, bipartisan support. Watch it here.

It features a politician in a booth labeled “Missouri politics,” with money flying around inside as he gleefully grabs for the cash.

The narrator reads, “With so much money in our elections, and gifts from lobbyists in Jefferson City, Missouri politicians can get a little carried away. Last year, they look a million dollars in gifts like concert tickets and fancy dinners.”

The narrator then unplugs the machine. The politician drops the money and takes a breath.

“But we can fix this. Amendment 1 lowers campaign contributions, requires fair districts, eliminates fancy gifts from lobbyists, and makes state government transparent.”

The screen says, “Endorsed by: AARP, League of Women Voters, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Yes on 1 to clean up Missouri politics”

The narrator concludes by saying, “Vote Yes on Amendment 1.”

A broad coalition of Republicans, Democrats, independents, and editorial boards across the state have publicly endorsed the full package of desperately needed reforms in the Clean Missouri initiative.


STL American: Yes on 1

Originally in the St. Louis American on October 11, 2018

The November 6 ballot in Missouri has a number of exciting statewide initiatives that should lure progressive voters to the polls – if saving a Democratic U.S. Senate seat (held by Claire McCaskill) and keeping an amazingly diligent and competent Democratic state auditor (Nicole Galloway) on the job aren’t enough. We previously endorsed ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage (Yes on Proposition B) and to prudently legalize and regulate medical marijuana (Yes on Amendment 2 as the best of three proposals, Yes on Proposition C as a back-up, and no on Amendment 3, which would install the highest medical marijuana tax in the nation and create a private government body to administer the revenues). We also endorse an ambitious initiative to improve many problematic aspects of Missouri politics, Amendment 1.

Here are the facts on what Amendment 1 will do to clean up state politics, according to St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones (who also is a former assistant minority floor leader in the Missouri Legislature): “stop big money in the Legislature by lowering campaign contribution limits; require state government to be more transparent and stop any legislative fundraising on state property; eliminate fancy lobbyist gifts; stop the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists with a two-year waiting period; require fair state legislative maps to protect minorities’ political power and to ensure neither party is given an unfair advantage when new maps are drawn after the census.”

As Jones noted in her op-ed last week, Amendment 1 has been endorsed by the NAACP, Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), Rev. Starsky Wilson and Deaconess Foundation, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Metropolitan Congregations United, Rev. Dr. Cassandra Gould and Missouri Faith Voices, Rasheen Aldridge, Missouri Jobs with Justice and the League of Women Voters. “Amendment 1 incorporates the Voting Rights Act into the Missouri Constitution so that marginalized constituents, like African Americans, will be fairly represented in the political process,” said Jamala Rogers, executive director and a founding member of OBS.

Nimrod (Rod) Chapel Jr., president of the NAACP Missouri State Conference and an early proponent of Amendment 1, noted that opponents of Amendment 1 “are spewing lies to protect the broken status quo, because they know they can’t win on the merits.” Among other claims, those trying to defeat the initiative have tried to appeal to black voters – and, especially, elected officials – by saying a redistricting that made more legislative districts competitive would also make it harder for black candidates to get elected. While Chapel, Rogers, Jones and ourselves all dispute that claim, we consider it absolutely indisputable that a redistricting process that eliminated the Republican super-majority in the Legislature would be good for all but the wealthiest and most conservative of Missourians. Certainly, it would be good for African Americans and Missouri’s largest urban areas, especially St. Louis, which drive the state’s economy while being starved of a fair share of funding by out-state Republican legislators who, selfishly and shortsightedly control budget priorities.

“We’ve been kicked out of public hearings,” Treasurer Jones wrote. “Government meetings have been held in back rooms of country clubs. The Legislature keeps its records secret, yet expects others to follow open government laws. It’s time for Amendment 1 to bring it all into the open for the people to see.” We agree. We strongly endorse a vote of YES ON AMENDMENT 1.