Our View

Missouri Republicans are taking another swing at the redistricting provision of Clean Missouri as the session winds down.

We can't blame them for trying, and they've never disguised the fact that going after it was a top legislative goal.

Still, we need to point out that we have yet to hear any hue and cry from the public on this — from anyone other than lawmakers, frankly — that this should be a priority.

You'll remember Clean Missouri, passed in 2018. It limited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers to $5, tightened caps on campaign donations and required lawmakers to conform to the Sunshine Law. It also changed how state House and Senate districts are drawn, using a state demographer. Congressional districts are not affected.

The new mechanism Republicans are proposing would use a voting-age definition for counting, rather than total population, and critics have said this would leave out people, including children, and adversely affect populations that have more children, including African Americans and Latinos.

In other words, Republicans aren't proposing a better or more neutral mechanism.

We're not sure there is a neutral way to carve state legislative districts in such a partisan time or to remove efforts by either party to shift the balance in their favor. But we do know that Clean Missouri — approved overwhelmingly by voters in 2018, 62% to 38% — has not been tried.

Republicans claim that Missourians were sold a bill of goods with Clean Missouri — that the ethics reforms were only included to get voter support for the redistricting plan that will favor Democrats. If that's true, Republicans have to own that. Missourians said for years — for decades — that ethics reform was needed, including campaign contribution limits and lobbying restrictions, but the Republican-controlled General Assembly wouldn't deliver. So they got this.

That's some of the backstory. The question is what the story will look like going forward.

Lawmakers should only consider overturning the will of voters in the rarest and most extreme circumstances — state emergencies, for example.

This is not that moment.

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