Redistricting Reconsidered

Before 2018, two independent commissions were responsible for drawing state legislative districts in Missouri. The commission for state Senate districts was made up of 10 members, with both major political parties equally represented. The commission for state House districts was made up of 16 members, eight from each of the two prominent parties. In order to approve an updated state legislative redistricting map, the new map needed 70% of the commissioners’ approval in order to be enacted.

In 2018, an initiative petition changed the redistricting process from bipartisan commissions to a process controlled by a single person, the nonpartisan state demographer. The selection process for the nonpartisan state demographer would be administered by the state auditor, an office with no apparent constitutional role in Missouri elections. The state demographer was to be selected from a pool of applicants, with the state auditor, state Senate majority leader and state Senate minority leader involved in the selection process. The state demographer is then required to file proposed maps with the existing commissions. If the commissions do not approve changes to the demographer’s map with a 7/10 vote, the demographer’s map is enacted.

Amendment 3 provides an opportunity to return to the bipartisan commission process by voting yes on November 3.  Amendment 3 also reduces campaign contribution limits even more than the initiative petition in 2018. I believe Amendment 3 will preserve local representation by prioritizing compact and contiguous districts that follow known boundaries when possible. This return to time-tested criteria will ensure citizens have the opportunity to elect officials who live in their area and share their values. If the changes enacted in 2018 stand, I worry we’ll see our state cut up into illogical maps, and rural citizens will be forced into legislative districts represented by big-city officials.

As currently written, Missouri’s Constitution requires everyone living in an area to be included in the population count legislative districts are determined. This potentially includes people who may be in the country illegally. Amendment 3 specifies districts will be drawn based on the legal principal of “one person, one vote,” ensuring only legal residents are included when determining districts.

I believe Missourians will suffer if Amendment 3 is not approved. I fear the redistricting rules currently in place will result in unbalanced representation, with urban areas of the state gaining undue influence at the expense of rural residents. Approving Amendment 3 will return Missouri to traditional methods of determining legislative districts and prevent the loss of local representation for voters in outstate Missouri. I encourage every voter in my district to join me in voting “yes” on Amendment one.

Missouri S&T Receives Record-breaking Gift

As a proud alum of Missouri S&T University, I was thrilled to hear the news about a major gift to my alma mater. In fact, the $300 million donation from St. Louis businessman Fred Kummer and his wife, June, is the largest single gift in Missouri higher education history. The record-breaking donation will fund the creation of the Kummer School of Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development within the university, as well as a new independent, but university-affiliated research and development entity located in Rolla.

Describing the impact of Kummer’s incredible generosity, Chancellor Dr. Mo Dehghani said the gift will enable Missouri S&T to become one of the nation’s leading universities for innovation, while energizing the economy of the Rolla area and the entire state of Missouri. The newly created Kummer Institute is expected to add $250 million to the state’s economy within five years, and more than $2 billion in the next quarter century.

A 1955 civil engineering graduate of the Missouri School of Mines, as S&T was previously known, Mr. Kummer is founder and chairman of HBE Corp., a St. Louis-based designer and builder of health care facilities. A former member of the S&T Board of Trustees and the University of Missouri Board of Curators, Kummer and his wife have contributed generously to the Rolla campus in the past. I believe everyone in the region would join me in expressing appreciation for the Kummer’s transformative contribution to the S&T campus and the Rolla community.

It’s my honor to serve as your senator for the 16th District. If you have questions or need any assistance, please call my office at 573-751-5713 or log onto my webpage at https://www.senate.mo.gov/brown for more information.

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Author: Editor
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