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Little public comment offered on Missouri House redistribution plan • Missouri Independent


The only solution offered on Monday for the Jackson County district disagreement in Missouri House would end the use of Troost Avenue as a limit for seats in western Kansas City.

While the main road was once a useful boundary for designing districts likely to be represented by Black Missourians, said Michael Smith, a Kansas City resident, it is no longer a practical line and its use results in narrow districts. from east to west and long. North South.

“They’re squeezing the western part of Kansas City along the state border,” Smith told the House Independent Bipartisan Citizens Commission. of the cards he offered. “A proposed neighborhood is only a few blocks east to west, but stretches from 63rd Street to Cass County.

The 20-member committee held the public hearing required by the Constitution on his draft plan for 163 House districts Monday morning in Jefferson City. The draft plan submitted to Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft on Dec. 23 shows agreement in 112 of the 163 districts, mostly in rural parts of the state.

The differences are in the densely populated areas of Boone, Greene and Jackson counties and part of St. Louis County.

Smith was the only person to present a comprehensive solution to one of the remaining disputes at Monday’s hearing. The commission is also take written comments.

The commission has until January 23 to complete its work, or the work of drawing a new map will be given to a panel of six judges of the courts of appeal. The card will be used to elect members of the House for the next decade.

The commission has 10 Democrats and 10 Republicans. To gain approval, a final card needs the votes of 14 members.

A commission appointed to draw the Senate districts missed the Dec. 23 deadline for filing a provisional plan and has ceased its work. The constitution does not say whether the Missouri Supreme Court, which selects judges for the appeals board that will attempt to draw 34 new Senate districts, must wait until after Jan. 23 to make the appointments.

The looming deadlines are of concern to local election officials, Greene County Clerk Shane Schoeller told the committee. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the census reports that serve as the basis for the design of the districts have been delayed.

The first date on the electoral calendar is February 22, the opening date for submitting candidatures for the partisan primary in August. If the House committee can come to an agreement, his card will be ready.

The Senate appeals committee will have 90 days to design the districts, a deadline that would be after filing closes on March 29.

But there are important dates for the administration of the elections that necessitate the timely approval of districts, Schoeller said. Until the results of the April municipal elections are certified, he said, no changes can be made to the mapping used by clerks and election officials to assign voters to particular districts.

The first date changes can be made, he said, is April 19 and the final date is May 24, eight weeks before the election.

“This process is how we make sure voters get the correct ballot on election day,” said Schoeller, who appeared on behalf of the Missouri Association of Clerks and Election Authorities.

The maps will need to be updated at a busy hour, Schoeller noted, with election officials checking signatures on initiative petitions and updating voter registration lists.

By the time the ballots are printed for the August primaries, the updated lines should be ready for Missouri House and Senate districts, Congressional districts, and county commission districts.

The General Assembly is responsible for drawing the boundaries of the districts of Congress. County commissions adjust the lines between the two associated districts in each county without a charter.

Commission Chairman Jerry Hunter said he was convinced there could be a deal. The next committee meeting date was not decided on Monday, but he said he did not want to work on January 23 to meet the deadline.

Along with Smith, the only other person to comment on the neighborhood design Monday was Caroline Fan, president and founder of the Missouri Asian American Youth Foundation. She asked the commission to look for ways to draw some districts in the St. Louis area that had relatively high percentages of people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent.

“It’s not easy being an Asian American person in this state,” Fan said.

On 2.4 percent of the state’s population is of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, she said, but there are areas in St. Louis County where the share is higher.

For example, she demanded that Creve Coeur, which has around 11 percent of people of Asian descent, be completely confined to one district.

“The St. Louis area has two-thirds of the state’s Asian American population, but we have no representative,” Fan said.

There are three members of Asian or Pacific Islander origin in the western part of the state, she said.

Of the 26 districts in St. Louis County, 16, including the one that would include Creve Couer, are in dispute. But no decision has been made regarding Jackson County.

Smith’s map proposed 18 districts, six of which had a majority population of minority voters, three of whom were predominantly black. One of the goals was to have as many minority-majority districts as possible, he said.

He also wants to erase the vestiges of past segregation, he said.

“Ours is a segregated city,” Smith said. “There is a long story there and I won’t go into detail. But Troost is considered the color line.

Smith’s plan was called into question by the commission. Its districts have too many people, they noted, above the constitutional allowance.

And the majority minority, Democratic member Melissa Patterson Hazley, is not the same as the black majority.

“You haven’t given me a compelling reason to go through Troost,” she said.