News Tribune: Miller County split on Clean Missouri Initiative

Miller County split on Clean Missouri Initiative

The partisan divide spread a little wider in Miller County as committees for the respective major political parties recently came down on opposing sides of the debate over the Clean Missouri Initiative, which is set to appear on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.

The Miller County Republican Central Committee has announced its opposition to the Clean Missouri Initiative, siding against the Miller County Democratic Committee, which supports the initiative. The Republican committee claimed the initiative protects political parties at the cost of Missouri voters, while the Democrats said the measure would allow more public input into the political process over that of lobbyists.

The Clean Missouri Initiative is a statewide legislative reform measure intended to increase transparency in Missouri government and reduce the partisan impact on redrawing congressional districts, among other things. The measure would require the public accessibility of legislative records by requiring the Legislature to operate under the same open records law as other public entities. It also would require legislators to wait two years before becoming lobbyists, limit lobbyist gifting in the General Assembly to $5 and lower campaign contribution limits.

“We believe this should be a bipartisan issue as many of the measures in the Clean Missouri Initiative were originally introduced by Republican members of the state legislature and has been endorsed by some Republican members of said body,” said Miller County Democratic Committee Chairman Bryan Struebig, referring to Republican Clean Missouri supporters like state Sen. Rob Schaaf and state Rep. Nick Marshall.

Struebig also is seeking the Democratic nomination for the Missouri Senate District 6 seat in the Aug. 7 primary election.

Among the most contested aspects of the measure is the effort to limit either party’s ability to advantage itself when redrawing district maps after the next census by requiring a non-partisan state demographer to create the new district layout, rather than political appointees or appellate judges.

According to the Republican committee’s resolution adopted June 30, the Clean Missouri Initiative “does not repair any existing issue within Missouri’s current redistricting process” because it removes public input from the redistricting process by giving control of the process to an unelected official appointed by the state auditor.

Critics of Clean Missouri have contended there is no guarantee the state demographer will be protected from partisan pressures.

The Republican committee also opposes Clean Missouri’s proposal to require parties to receive approximate equal efficiency in their districts as part of an effort to promote partisan fairness. A district’s efficiency is determined by calculating the difference between a parties’ respective amount of votes cast in excess of the amount of votes necessary to win an election, divided by the total number of votes. The Miller County Republican committee referred to this process, known as the “efficiency gap,” as an unproven measure that conflicts with the 1965 Voting Rights Act’s protection of majority-minority districts, which is intended to prevent the dilution of minority people’s voting strength.

Section two of the Voting Rights Act mandates district maps be drawn in a way that allows for minority communities to have enough voting representation in a district to impact election results and allow for more minority representation in the Legislature. Critics of this redistricting practice have said it can be manipulated to deplete minority people’s overall voting impact in the state and nation by limiting them to a relatively small amount of districts. This is referred to as “packing,” when a group of citizens is placed within a single district in order to diminish the group’s influence in other districts, contrary to the original spirit of the Voting Rights Act. Since statistically most minority citizens vote Democratic, critics have viewed this practice as a Republican strategy to advance candidates and legislation.

Hannah Kelly: The Truth About Clean Missouri

Petitions in Missouri are circulating an initiative called “Clean Missouri.” With a name that insinuates bipartisanship and pure intentions, the proposal has most everyone fooled. What lies beneath the public image of the Clean Missouri Initiative is an issue that, if passed, will be devastating to Missouri Republicans.

The initiative is advertised as ethics reform and includes changes to the state’s laws relating to lobbyists and campaign contribution limits. However, the main focus of the initiative is a radical change to the process of redistricting Missouri’s legislative districts. Clean Missouri would give the state auditor, the only statewide Democratic officeholder in Jefferson City, the power to appoint an unelected demographer to redraw Missouri’s Legislative Districts in the name of bipartisanship.

This might seem like a good idea at face value, however, the devil is in the details.

An unelected bureaucrat would be tasked with drawing districts as “fair” as possible, which means that no matter how red and conservative or how blue and liberal an area is, Clean Missouri would seek to make that district’s electorate a bipartisan split. This means that there could be non-contiguous districts, including state senate districts that stretch down long highways, such as Joplin connected to parts of Kansas City or Hannibal connected to Columbia. If redistricting were to take place in the way that Clean Missouri wants, districts would not represent Missourians’ values and would create a bevy of problems for lawmakers. It is also likely that the new maps, in the name of fairness, would lump multiple state representatives in the same districts in 2022.

Make no mistake about it — Clean Missouri’s real purpose is to decrease or even eliminate the Republican majority in Jefferson City and put Democrat elites in charge.

Pulling back the curtain on who is actually supporting this initiative reveals that Clean Missouri has been endorsed by the who’s who of Democrat elites. Planned Parenthood, The Sierra Club, NARAL Pro Choice, Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, Teacher Unions, Empower Missouri, SEIU, and AFL-CIO, among others, have officially endorsed the measure. The Post Dispatch also reported that George Soros’ group, The Open Society Policy Center, donated $300,000 to the MOVE Ballot fund. The MOVE Ballot Fund, which had just $84 on hand at the time of the donation, then donated $250,000 to the Clean Missouri Initiative, effectively laundering a Soros donation to keep it under the radar.

The mission of Clean Missouri is clear: Democrat elites have been beaten at the ballot box, but have not given up on pushing their agenda. Rather, under the guise of ethics and lobbying reform, George Soros and other progressive groups are using the Clean Missouri Initiative as a way to draw districts that Democrats can win in order to get their agenda passed.

Missourians must stand together to oppose Clean Missouri. We have worked too hard and for too long to allow out-of-state billionaires and liberal special interest groups to alter the way we elect our representatives. Share, talk and spread the word, Clean Missouri will not pass on our watch.

The Missouri Times | Bukowsky - Blue Missouri?

CLEAN Missouri, a group that received a $250,000 donation from George Soros, is circulating an initiative petition that, if passed in November, would radically change district lines for the House and Senate to make every seat in the Missouri Legislature (except seats held by minorities) a 50/50 toss-up. 

Every 10 years, following the release of the United States Census, a “redistricting” process occurs to redraw the district lines for U.S. Congress and the seats in both chambers of Missouri’s General Assembly. 

Re-writing the redistricting process is the last of the Initiative Petition’s seven proposed changes to the Missouri Constitution, and it is by far the most controversial. 

Power to the People! Auditor

Under the CLEAN Missouri initiative, lines for both House and Senate districts are drawn by a “non-partisan demographer.” To appoint this demographer, the State Auditor will submit a list of at least three qualified applicants to the Missouri Senate. Majority and minority leaders then select the demographer from this list. If they cannot agree on a candidate, each strikes one third of the candidates from the list and the State Auditor selects the Demographer via a “random lottery” of remaining candidates.  In a nutshell, and practically speaking, the State Auditor will pick the State Demographer. 

Currently, committees composed of half Democrats and half Republicans draw the district lines. If they cannot get 70% to agree on a map, districts are instead drawn by six appellate judges appointed by the Missouri Supreme Court. Now, these committees are appointed, but they only get input as to how district lines are drawn if they can get 70% to agree on the amended map. Otherwise, the demographer’s map goes into place. If this initiative passes, the person holding the office of Missouri State Auditor will become materially more powerful. 

A Complete Rewrite of Redistricting Rules

There’s a joke that when it comes to redistricting, there are two parties – incumbents and challengers. But, when it comes to withstanding a legal challenge, there are certain requirements that must be met.

Essentially, once the racial minorities and language minorities (new undefined term) are considered and not diluted, the remaining voters must be split up to promote partisan fairness and then competitiveness. 

Partisan Fairness’ Electoral Performance Index

Each district is drawn to achieve partisan fairness based on an index, which calculates the number of Democrat and Republican votes from the last three general elections for President, Governor, and U.S. Senate. Using this formula, districts for the Senate and House would each have to be drawn to be 50% Democrat and 50% Republican.

The problem is that to achieve the required “partisan fairness,” where will the voters have to be drawn from to split up our state into 163 and 34 pieces that comport with “partisan fairness?” 

To draw lines that comport with CLEAN’s requirements, nearly every district would have to include a piece of Kansas City, St. Louis, or Columbia. And the elected officeholder of nearly every district could be a resident of St. Louis , Kansas City, or Columbia. 

Currently, the Missouri Constitution requires that districts be contiguous. It prohibits Senate districts from splitting counties unless a county is in excess of 1/34 of the state’s population (roughly 180,000). It also requires districts be “as compact as may be.” Under CLEAN, all of these requirements would be trumped by partisan fairness. The districts may not even be contiguous.

Our district map would end up looking like a long, spidery web of skinny districts. There’s no such thing as too thin, though, right? 

Giving Democrats a 50/50 shot of winning the MoLeg majority

There are arguably some benefits to CLEAN’s plan. First, it could lead to more unity in the State of Missouri. It could lead to candidates having to be more representative of our state as a whole in order to serve in the legislature. Second, there could be a lot more bipartisanship if most of the officeholders were moderates. Third, CLEAN Missouri would also be a boon to political consultants if it passes because, with more competitive races, there would be more potential clients spending more money to win elections. 

But there are obviously downsides, too. First, as a Republican, I don’t relish the idea of the Democrats taking over control of the General Assembly. Second, people in more densely populated areas will have a big advantage in raising money than residents living in areas of rural poverty, which would deprive rural voters with an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. Finally, if the districts are long and skinny, you could end up being represented by people who live too far away from you to understand or even care about the issues faced by your local community. 

Final Thoughts

It is not known whether this initiative will receive sufficient signatures or if it will even survive legal challenges and be placed on November’s ballot. But the possibility that it looms on Missouri’s horizon is deserving of a lot more attention. 

Keep an eye on this one and be very careful signing any petitions outside of the post office, folks.

Read the original article here.