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Mid February Blue Notes

"Dirty Missouri" is on the Move

via Rep. Judy Morgan

I've already talked about this issue several times in this year's updates.  However, it's likely one of the most consequential issues we'll vote on as a legislature this session and I want to keep you well-informed.


Amendment 1, affectionately known as Clean Missouri, was a major ethics reform package  passed by the voters of Missouri in November 2018 as  an amendment to our state constitution.  The people approved Clean Missouri by an overwhelmingly margin of 62% - that's 1,469,093 votes.  Since it's now part of our constitution, to undo any part of Amendment 1 requires that we go back to the people for a vote.  


As soon as Clean Missouri passed, Republicans voiced their displeasure with it, especially the section dealing with redistricting of legislative districts.  Repealing  that portion of Clean Missouri became a top priority for Republican lawmakers who had achieved super majorities in both the Missouri House and Senate under the old partisan redistricting process.  


During the 2019 session, Republican leadership thought that they had accomplished their goal of putting redistricting back on the ballot with HJR 48. However, because of a tactical mistake by Senate Republicans, HJR 48 was unexpectedly torpedoed in committee during the last week of session.


So they didn't waste any time this year.  Last Tuesday afternoon, the Missouri Senate gave first-round approval (the perfection vote) to SJR 38, sponsored by Republican Sen. Dan Hegeman.  SJR 38 proposes a constitutional amendment that would repeal significant parts of Clean Missouri.  Dubbed Dirty Missouri by Missouri Senate Democrats, SJR 38 would:
  • Eliminate lobbyist gifts (now they're capped at $5.00 per occurrence); 
  • Lower campaign contributions for state senators from $2500.00 to $2400.00 (a decrease of only $100.00); and
  • Reverse the redistricting reforms by doing away with the nonpartisan demographer who would have redrawn the districts and going back to a modified version of the old system that gave partisan commissions first crack at drawing new maps.
As a refresher, every ten years the Missouri Senate and House district boundary lines are redrawn following the U.S. census. Under the old guidelines 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. 


However, many believed that this process turned into a partisan affair as incumbents (on both sides of the aisle)  tried to protect their own seats and districts were gerrymandered to favor the Republican Party.   Under the guidelines in Clean Missouri, a nonpartisan demographer would  oversee redistricting and be charged with drawing maps that maximized the number of competitive districts. 


In my opinion, the Republicans are trying to entice voters with  the provisions in SJR 38 on eliminating lobbyist gifts and reducing campaign contributions for state senate candidates.  Their true objective is a return to the old partisan way of redistricting so that they can maintain their super-majority.
SJR 38 proposes one key departure from the old system of redistricting which would impose new hurdles to challenging unconstitutional redistricting plans. During the last redistricting cycle in 2011, the Missouri Supreme Court struck down the originally submitted Senate redistricting map as unconstitutional, requiring the process to start over. Under SJR 38, bringing such a challenge could prove more difficult.


In addition, SJR 38  eliminates the traditional requirement that districts be based on the "total population of the state" and replaces it with an amorphous "one person, one vote" standard. Those of us who oppose SJR 38 believe that this change constitutes an attempt to exclude non-voters - children, immigrants, and adults who haven't registered to vote   - from being counted for apportionment purposes and produce districts of unbalanced populations skewed to favor Republicans.   
And  the measure would minimize the importance of competitiveness and partisan fairness in drawing new districts. Overall  the Republicans' new redistricting plan per SJR 38  is  actually worse than the old system that we got rid of under Clean Missouri.
As I mentioned previously, the Senate Democrats referred to SJR 38  as "Dirty Missouri."  What a well-suited name for this debacle to overturn the will of the people!
Our eight hard-working Democratic Senators had waged a filibuster against SJR 38 for nearly twelve hours from Wednesday, January 29, continuing into Thursday, January 30, finally ending at 3:00 am that morning.   They continued to filibuster for another three hours on Tuesday afternoon before proceeding to the vote.  (You probably heard that we've lost two of our Democratic Senators due to appointments, so we're down to eight left standing.)


SJR 38 requires one more vote in the Missouri Senate (the third read vote) and then it heads over to the House side.  I don't sugarcoat issues and I don't believe that we have the votes to stop SJR 38.  So, it will likely be on the statewide ballot in November 2020.  
Although  Republicans claim that voters didn't understand what they were voting for back in November of 2018, I believe that  most voters   want a fair and nonpartisan redistricting process.  And I'm hopeful that the people will see through SJR 38 and vote it down at the ballot box.  You can count on me to vote no on SJR 38 when we debate it on the House floor and to work against it at the ballot box in the 2020 election!

House Committee Passes Gag Order on School Officials

(via Rep. Jerome Barnes)

By a tight 7-6 vote, the House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee on Feb. 4 advanced legislation that would prohibit local government and school officials from testifying for or against legislation before legislative committees. While most Republican committee members voted for the bill, two joined Democrats in opposition.
Existing state law prohibits local officials from donating public funds to campaigns for or against ballot measures or candidates for office. However, that law still allows them to speak on matters of public policy in their official capacity, including taking positions supporting or opposing legislation.
Under House Bill 1347, local officials – including representatives of cities, counties and school districts – could continue to testify before legislative committees, but only if they take no position on a bill, which would largely defeat the purpose of testifying. At present, local officials testify for and against bills on a regular basis. Local officials who violated the bill could be subject to lawsuits and fines.

Donald Trump Was Lying About Medicaid and Medicare Cuts

In a move that should surprise absolutely nobody, the Trump Administration has released their budget and revenue projections for the next year and it includes a $500 billion cut to Medicare, hundreds of billions cut from Medicaid and $24 billion from Social Security. Despite these massive reductions, the federal budget would not be reduced over the next 10 years due to the lost revenue from the GOP tax scam from early in his term and further increased spending to build a wall along the southern border.

This is a huge betrayal to his campaign promises going back to 2015 and contradicts recent statements that he is the one saving these programs. If George H. W. Bush was too damaged to win re-election after the "read my lips: no new taxes" sound byte, this could be the lie that finally sinks his 2020 campaign among swing voters in key states.

But of course, this isn't just a Trump problem, this is a Republican Party problem. Former Speaker Paul Ryan had made it his life's work to slash entitlement programs in the name of small government and fiscal responsibility. Senators who are owned by big corporate interests like Mitch McConnell and Josh Hawley will keep on saying the solution is further tax cuts for the 1% and businesses. Today's Republican party is unified by three major ideas: give money back to their sponsors, cripple entitlement programs promised to the working class, and lie about it endlessly.

Upcoming Meetings and Important Dates:

  • Jackson County Democratic Committee: Quarterly business meeting, February 20, 7pm at the Eastern Jackson County Courthouse (308 W Kansas Ave, Independence).
  • Raytown Democratic Association: Monthly meeting February 20 at 7pm. Las Chili's (6210 Raytown Trafficway). Guest speaker will be Ryan Myers, candidate for State Senate District 9.
  • Filing Opens: The first day to file for County Committee seats, Jackson County Sheriff, County Prosecutor, State Representative, State Senate and all Statewide offices (except Auditor) is February 25. County offices must be declared at the county courthouse in Kansas City, state offices in the Secretary of State's offices in Jefferson City.
  • 12th Annual Wiggins Fund Event: March 5, 6:00pm at Travois (310 W 19th Terrace KCMO). Multiple guest speakers will be announced. Light food and drinks provided.
  • Candidate Filing Closes: March 31, 5pm
  • Delegate Selection: "Mass meetings" held in your local ward or township. April 6.  Much more information to come on this first step toward selecting national delegates for Presidential candidates.
  • Congressional Convention: April 30. Time and location TBD.
  • MDP Second Quarter Meeting: May 9, Jefferson City
  • The 33rd Annual Truman Gala: June 6, Independence MO
  • Missouri Democrats State Convention: June 20, Kansas City


The $20 for '20 Campaign Needs Your Support


For the last several months, the Jackson County Democrats have been analyzing data, testing campaign messages, recruiting candidates, and building a team of volunteers to do everything we can to retake state and local offices come election night next November. Learning lessons from the past several elections and using the momentum against the damaging policies of Republicans at the federal and state levels, we are poised to have major victories here in Jackson County just like we saw recently in Virginia, Kentucky and Louisiana.
But, of course, we need the resources to get the job done.  The JCDC has evaluated a budget from summer through the November election that requires $20,000 more than we raised and spent for the 2016 races.  Since we aren't Republicans with billionaire donors who fund PACs for a year with the stroke of a pen, we have to get our donations the hard way: a little bit at a time from many different sources. So how do we get to $20,000 in a grassroots campaign?
Volunteer Training (hosted by Patty Lewis):
Saturday, February 1st 10:00am-12:00pm, we will have volunteer training at my house: 814 W. 54th Terrace, KC, MO 64112.  Training will include using the tracking tool (Minivan) on your phone, messaging at the door, and administrative training.  After the training those who want to canvass, we will divide up, put our new skills into action, and hit the doors.  Those who want to help with administrative work, please stick around to help with postcards.  Breakfast and beverages provided. 

If you can join us, please sign up by Thursday, January 30th:

If we can get 100 unique donors to pledge $20 a month from now til the November election, we will meet our goal AND get a bonus of $5,000 from a great donor who is challenging us to get this done.  This extra funding will make a HUGE difference in supporting our candidates up and down the ballot as we know we will be outspent by our Republican opponents and their special interest money.  After the JCDC holiday party, we're about 30% of the way there.
By coming together and pledging $20 per month, we can show our Republican opponents we will challenge them everywhere in Jackson County and for every statewide office. Join the fight now and invite other friends and supporters to do the same. Onward to victory in 2020!