JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It’s an election year, meaning a deadline is looming for lawmakers to pass a new congressional map that could change who represents you.
Depending on where you live you could have a new congressman or woman representing you in Washington D.C. later this year. This week, the new six Republican, two Democrat congressional map passed out of the House, meaning it’s now the Senate’s turn, but tensions are high and so are the number of COVID cases.
“Why do we have to threaten each other,” Rep Jim Murphy, R-St. Louis, said, “We’re going to have to be statesmen and agree on a map. That’s the only way this thing is going to happen.”
No matter if you’re a Republican or a Democrat, redrawing the map hasn’t been easy.
“Some say a yes vote is to push forth the status quo, to keep what we had,” Rep. Nick Schroer (R-O’Fallon) said. “I arguably think we’re going backwards as a conservative.”
After a handful of amendments were offered Tuesday afternoon, lawmakers perfected the map. Then, Wednesday morning House members barely passed the legislation.
The census data shows the state population grew to 6,154,913 which means each of the eight congressional districts needs an additional 20,000. Both the 1st and the 8th districts lost people, while the 7th gained more residents, meaning lines had to be redrawn.
A point of contention for some in St. Charles County is that the county is split between the 1st and 2nd districts.
“I think that this map we pushed forward will actually open the door for the next Ocasio Cortz or Cori Bush to run in district 2,” Schroer said
The bill is now in the hands of the Senate, where Democrats would also like to see changes.
“A 5 [Republican], 3 [Democrat] map is more representative of the state of Missouri and where we are at,” Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo (D-Independence) said. “Democrats routinely get over 40 to 45% of the vote on statewide issues.”
Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden (R-Columbia) said he’s more concerned with a 7 Republican, 1 Democrat map. The current map that’s in the Senate is “solid.”
“The notion that any of my Republican colleagues would make the notion, make the statement that if we vote for this map, we’re voting for Nancy Pelosi to the Speaker of the House is just insane on its face,” Rowden said, “I mean it just makes no sense.”
This week, the Senate had 6 of the 34 members out because of COVID, Rowden said.
“We’re still taking it seriously but we’re also making sure that we can function and make sure we can do the stuff we need to do,” Rowden said.
In the current map, there are nine splits, but this new map cuts that number down to eight.
Another point of contention is the emergency clause, which puts the map into effect as soon as the governor signs it compared to waiting until the end of August when the primaries would already be over, which could affect your ballot.
“You could make the argument that technically they are not in effect until January, but then you could also make the argument that they need to be in place and in effect for filing to go smoothly as well,” Rizzo said. “Right now, we are in the process of trying to work through it and come up with the best map possible for Missouri taxpayers.”
The emergency clause, which needed 109 votes in the House failed. Rowden said the Senate is going to try to pass it which would give the House another shot.
“We could change the filing date, there could be like years past where candidates file in multiple districts and when we figure out what exactly the maps look like then you withdraw,” House Minority Leader Crystal Quade (D-Springfield) said. “If the governor thought this was a true emergency, we would have already had it done by now.”
He said the map will be in a Senate committee Monday, and then will be debated on the floor sometime next week.