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End of April News and Notes

Missouri Democrats Swag Now Available

Show support for the party across Missouri and help grow the MDP by buying some great stuff from the state party website:


The Republican Attack on Your Vote: An Explanation By Rep. Judy Morgan

Every ten years the Missouri Senate and House district boundary lines are redrawn following the U.S. census. Until  Clean Missouri  passed at the ballot box last November, the political parties and the governor picked a bipartisan panel of 16 House members and another  panel of 10 Senate members to draw the legislative maps. 
Seventy percent of the panel had to agree  on them.  If they couldn't reach an agreement,   the Missouri Supreme Court appointed a commission of six state appellate judges to draw the maps.  
However, many believed that this process turned into a partisan affair as incumbents tried to protect their own seats and districts were gerrymandered to favor the Republican Party. So,  the citizens of MIssouri decided to take the matter into their own hands by putting a constitutional amendment on the November 2018 ballot.  
Amendment 1 presented a number of ethics reforms to the voters.  In addition to redistricting, other issues included limiting lobbyist gifts and campaign contributions, fostering transparency in government, and ending the revolving door of legislators becoming lobbyists.
The redistricting portion of Clean Missouri called for a complete overhaul of how new House and Senate districts are drawn. Under the new system, a nonpartisan demographer would  oversee redistricting and be charged with drawing maps that maximize the number of competitive districts.  
For more specifics, here's how the redistricting proposal works per Amendment 1.
  • State residents can apply for the position of non-partisan state demographer.
  • The state auditor delivers the names of at least three applicants with the expertise/qualifications needed to do the job to the majority and minority leaders of their respective chambers.
  • If the leaders agree on a name, that person gets the job.
  • If they don't,  each leader may strike 1/3 of the names from the list.
  • Then from the remaining names on the list, the appointment is selected via a random lottery conducted by the auditor.
  • The demographer draws the legislative boundary lines based on a variety of criteria, which I've summarized below.
  • The  governor then appoints a commission based on nominees from the congressional district committees of each of the two parties casting the highest vote for governor in the last preceding election (likely the Democratic and Republican parties).
  • That commission reviews the tentative plan of apportionment and map of the proposed districts and holds at least three public hearing dates  to hear objections or testimony from interested persons.  
The commission can make changes to the map of the legislative districts with a 70% vote of  the commissioners.  If they can't reach that threshold, the map stands as proposed by the independent, nonpartisan demographer   FYI - The MO House and MO Senate will have their own respective demographers and commissions.
Regarding the criteria for drawing the maps, the non-partisan demographer must 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). In addition, the demographer must draw the maps so as  to ensure partisan fairness and secondarily, competitiveness. 
As stated in Amendment 1: "Partisan fairness means that parties shall be able to translate their popular support into legislative representation with approximately equal efficiency. Competitiveness means that parties' legislative representation shall be substantially and similarly responsive to shifts in the electorate's preferences."

Just like in current law, legislative districts would still be required to be contiguous and compact.  And  Amendment 1 provides for  protections to ensure minority representation.

Republican Rep. Dean Plocher sponsored HJR 48 and also serves as Chair of the General Laws Committee.    His bill appeared to be a simple, straightforward one that completely banned lobbyist gifts.  Clean Missouri had limited such gifts to no more than $5.00, sometimes referred to as the "coffee cup rule."

As reported in that same article: "But those who spoke against the bill at Monday's hearing. . .suspect that the bill is a disguise for yet another attempt at reversing some of the provisions of the state's new Clean Missouri law. . .Critics of the bill said that they anticipate Plocher will use a seemingly innocent bill and later attach anti-redistricting amendments to it without the opportunity for public input."
Well, the opponents and critics were right on!    At the April 16 meeting of the General Laws Committee and  with no opportunity for input from the public, Rep. Plocher submitted a House Committee Substitute for HJR 48.  Included in the House Committee Substitute were two other stand-alone bills that completely  scrapped the  new process for redistricting state legislative seats ratified by  voters  just  last November. 
The Lowdown on HJR 48
Since the provisions of Clean Missouri were passed as a constitutional amendment, it will require another vote of the people to repeal any part of Amendment 1.  That's exactly what HJR 48 proposes to accomplish.  In addition to banning lobbyist gifts, HJR 48:
  • Repeals the redistricting guidelines per Clean Missouri, including getting rid of the nonpartisan demographer;
  • Replaces the nonpartisan demographer with a partisan 20-member commission (who will draw the maps) with members nominated by the state party, congressional committees and appointed by the governor;
  • Reorganizes the priority considerations that are to be used in the redistricting process so that partisan fairness and competitiveness of districts are the last criterion to be considered when drawing legislative districts and only when other criterion have been satisfied; and
  • Requires that 70% of the commissioners agree to the maps and if they don't, the Missouri Supreme Court picks six appellate judges to draw the legislative maps.
As you can see, it's basically back to what we had before Clean Missouri. I wholeheartedly agree with Emily Park who wrote an article in the Pitch (4/24/19) about this issue. Ms. Park stated: "Before Clean Missouri passed, there was no state demographer and only three requirements were considered: equal population, contiguity, and compactness. A recipe in other words, for rampant gerrymandering." 
Freshman State Legislator to Watch: Robert Sauls of Independence
From his work as a prosecuting attorney to a public defender to an assistant staff judge for the U.S. Air Force, freshman Rep. Robert Sauls has a full life of public service under his belt.

Now, serving in the state House, Sauls, a Democrat, has made it his goal to look at the state legislature from all perspectives so he can better serve his community and country.

“I’ve dedicated my life to public service,” Sauls told The Missouri Times. “I’ve been a prosecutor, I’ve been a public defender, and captain in the Reserves…To me public service is very important, and I see value in that. Ultimately this is just a way that I can continue to contribute and do my part.”

Read the full Missouri Times article here:



Upcoming Club Meetings and Events:

  • Jackson County Democratic Committee: 2nd quarter regular meeting. Thursday May 9th at the Downtown KC Courthouse, 415 E 12th St. KCMO. Meeting begins at 7pm.
  • Greater KC Women's Political Caucus: Eastern Jackson County Political Action Group: Meeting and postcard writing party. Thursday, May 16th, 6-8pm. Tim's Pizza (17201 E US 40 Highway, Independence).
  • Greater KC Women's Political Caucus: Trailblazers celebration and reception. Thursday May 23rd, 6:00-8:00pm. Lathrop and Gage reception space (2345 Grand, 22nd Floor). See below for information and link to buy tickets.
  • Congressman Cleaver's Annual BBQ: June 1, noon, IBEW 124 (301 E 103rd Ter. KCMO). More details to come.

Trailblazers Celebration: Leading the Charge on Sustainability

Purchase your ticket before May 1 for an Early Bird price!

This year we are celebrating local women doing innovative work on environmental sustainability. Come mingle with these trailblazers, enjoy heavy apps provided by Zoe's Kitchen and drinks. Our two keynote speakers will discuss environmental efforts happening in the metro area.

Lindsey Constance is a member of the Shawnee City Council and the co-founder of Metro KC Climate Action Coalition, an organization that works to find ways to counter the effects of climate change. A teacher for 16 years, Constance aims to improve the futures of her kids and those she has taught.

Beth Low-Smith is the vice president of policy for KC Healthy Kids, a group that works to foster support for healthy habits, both in our communities and by influencing policy. Formerly a Missouri State Representative, Low-Smith has devoted her career to advocating for increased opportunities for everyone.

Hall of Fame awardees to be announced.

We'll be on the 22nd floor of the Lathrop and Gage building at 2345 Grand Blvd. In the spirit of the event, we encourage guests to carpool, or take the bus or streetcar. Parking in the building parking garage is available, and must be paid for in cash.