As deadline approaches, Missouri House takes ‘another bite’ on congressional district map | News
If approved, Franklin County would move from third to
second congressional district
Lawmakers in the Missouri House of Representatives “took another bite of the apple” as one state representative put it, and introduced another new map to Congress on Wednesday afternoon in hopes of pass one before the end of the legislative session.
This House map, if approved by the House and Senate, would move Franklin County from the Third Congressional District to the Second.
Although Jefferson City lawmakers have been working on new congressional maps all year, the Senate and House have not agreed on a map. The House first passed an initial draft map in January, while the Senate approved a different map in March — which split Franklin County in two.
The two chambers were unable to merge around a single map this session, leaving Missouri as the only state that has not finalized a new map. House supporters are hoping this latest map overhaul will have enough changes to hopefully draw support from the Senate.
The legislative session ends on May 13, leaving just enough time for House lawmakers to potentially vote on the map on Monday. If approved by the House, the Senate could vote on the map on Wednesday.
In the latest map proposed by House, Franklin County would no longer be part of Missouri’s third congressional district, which is represented by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth. Instead, the county would move to the second congressional district represented by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin. The new Second Congressional District boundary would also include parts of St. Charles, St. Louis and the parts of Warren County south of Interstate 70.
“What we heard a lot was that (Third District residents) wanted to remain a rural district in central Missouri. We did it with (this map),” R-Imperial Rep. Dan Shaul said, referring to the decision to move Franklin County from the Third District to the Second District.
Shaul introduced the new map and chairs the committee, which voted 8-3 to move it forward. Franklin County would likely have a large influence on the outcome of any second district election, as only 25% of St. Charles County voters would be in the district, and St. Louis County voters would be evenly split among several congressional districts.
“The way this neighborhood looks is much more preferable, in my opinion, because it encompasses some rural areas, but these are areas that are really contiguous to the heart of the neighborhood, which is still suburban St. Louis,” said Rep. Shamed Dogan, a Republican running for county executive in St. Louis.
Unlike the map proposed by the House committee on Wednesday, the Senate’s latest proposal would split Franklin County in two. The Senate proposal angered President Franklin County Commissioner Tim Brinker.
“Dividing Franklin County into two congressional districts doesn’t benefit anyone in that county, as far as I’m concerned,” Brinker said. “Franklin County, being one of the largest counties in the State of Missouri, must remain whole. I think that’s how we can get things done, it’s together as a whole.
Shaul said he was confident the House’s latest map would appeal to skeptical senators, who might have balked at the previous proposal. “I think it has a chance to pass,” Shaul said. “It was created to try to make sure it survives the Senate.”
Shaul’s map divides Boone County — specifically along Broadway in Columbia — into the Third and Fourth Congressional Districts. The southern portion of the city, including the University of Missouri campus, would be in the Third District, while northern Columbia would be included in the Fourth District. The Fourth District would include a broad swath of 24 western Missouri counties.
The proposal drew dissatisfaction from the League of Women Voters who urged lawmakers not to divide Boone County into separate congressional districts. Outside of Columbia, the district is split along I-70.
“I understand that when you start making these changes it affects everything else, but the fact is that (the third district) is moving away from Boone County under St. Louis (city) towards the river,” said the Former Rep. Nancy Copenhaver, who spoke on behalf of the League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization committed to protecting and expanding the right to vote.
Boone County, Copenhagen said, is the economic hub of central Missouri with its multiple colleges, hospitals, and job opportunities created in various industries.
“(The Third District) beats to Kansas (as does the Fourth District),” Copenhaver said.
Susan Klein, executive director and chief lobbyist for Missouri Right to Life, also spoke out against the proposal. She said the organization opposed the proposed map because it did not guarantee Republicans would have a 7-1 advantage over Democrats in the state’s delegation to the U.S. House. “I guess that ship sailed,” Klein said. “Obviously we’re not going to take on seven Republicans in Missouri.”
A sticking point for both chambers has been how to consolidate the state’s only competitive residential district — the Second District — rather than splitting Kansas City’s Democratic-leaning district into four Republican-leaning districts.
“It brings us closer to what we want, not as far as seven Republicans, but closer,” Klein said.