Apparently, our elected representatives prefer choosing their voters to following the will of the voters.
The Missouri Senate recently passed and sent to the House a proposal to again ask voters to change the state's redistricting rules. The proposed amendment comes less than two years after the electorate overwhelmingly approved changes to redistricting as part of the constitutional amendment called Clean Missouri.
If approved by the House, the proposal would go to the voters on the November 2020 ballot, before the current redistricting plan can be tested.
The new constitutional amendment would change how state House and Senate districts are drawn. The proposal would move “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” to the bottom of a list of factors used to draw state House and Senate districts under the current amendment. It would also abolish a voter-approved state demographer position to draw districts and return the task to the bipartisan commissions used before Clean Missouri passed.
The amendment would toss in popular ethics reforms, banning lobbyist gifts to lawmakers and further reducing campaign contribution limits. The 2018 measure had limited lobbyist gifts to $5 and set new campaign contribution limits. Lawmakers are applying the same sweetener they had complained about, given that legislators opposing the prior amendment had said such items — along with requiring that lawmakers conform to the Sunshine Law — were added to Clean Missouri to get voters to pass it.
Even more revealingly, the voters had urged lawmakers to pass similar reforms for years, but they repeatedly failed to do so.
We have said before that lawmakers must cease its efforts to overturn voter initiatives. The voters have spoken, and the legislature had refused multiple opportunities to address the problems themselves.
Further, current efforts by the Legislature to intervene in the initiative petition process reflect lawmakers' resistance to following the will of the electorate, instead focusing on retaining power, serving moneyed interests and maintaining partisan advantage.
Voters are not clamoring for these changes. Lawmakers are seeking them for their own ends regardless of the will of the people.
Legislators would be better off if they sought to respond to the real needs and priorities of voters rather than pursuing political advantage by selecting the mix of voters to make their seats more secure.
It is time to trust the will of the electorate.