Missouri GOP Effort To Gut Gerrymandering Reform Is Dead — For Now

Missouri state capitol building in Jefferson City. (Photo by: Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images)
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Thanks to an unforced procedural error earlier this week, it looks like Missouri’s GOP legislature will not — during this year’s session at least — be able to get on the 2020 ballot a measure to gut a recent, voter-approved anti-gerrymandering overhaul to redistricting.

Of course, it’s possible, and probably likely, that Missouri Republicans try again in next year’s legislative session.

Nonetheless, the failure to do so this year is embarrassing for the legislature, where Republicans talked a big game about going after the 2018 ballot initiative, known as Clean Missouri.

Republican lawmakers specifically sought to undo the Clean Missouri provision that gave a non-partisan demographer the power to draw the state’s legislative maps. The measure they failed to pass this year would have also undermined or reversed other redistricting reform provisions of Clean Missouri. Additionally, it contained language that appeared to set the stage for Missouri to exclude noncitizens in the next round of redistricting — a major move that would shift political power away from immigrant communities, and thus boost the electoral advantages of the GOP.

Had Republicans passed their measure — known as HJR 48 — it would have needed final approval by voters in 2020.

As recently as a week ago, they’d been moving full steam ahead. The measure had passed easily out of the House, and the Missouri Senate’s GOP leaders indicated that they fully backed it.

However, the effort hit a significant — and ultimately fatal — roadblock on Monday when not enough Republicans showed up to a committee vote to advance HJR 48 to the Senate floor. Two of those Republicans were complete no-shows for the committee meeting, the Kansas City Star reported, while a third Republican believed incorrectly that he could vote by proxy, as he was recording a Facebook Live event at the time of the meeting with the state’s Republican governor. With a 2-2 party-line vote, HJR 48 was unable to move forward.

Republicans earlier this week claimed the measure was not dead yet. But in the days since, it appears that they instead put their full attention on passing an anti-abortion bill that bans the procedure after eight weeks into the pregnancy.

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