Crowell Files Bill on Open Redistricting Process
BY DICK ALDRICH
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A Missouri State Senator says redistricting secrecy needs to end.
Sen. Jason Crowell, R- Cape Girardeau, Wednesday filed a proposed constitutional amendment that would do away with the current system related to how state House and Senate boundaries are redrawn every ten years.
The process came under criticism when a judicial panel produced new Senate and House maps after only one public meeting. The rest of the meetings occurred behind closed doors. The result placed more than 50 current House members in districts with other current members, and a Senate map that appeared to be unconstitutional. The judges issued a revised Senate map last Friday.
Crowell’s amendment would require any meeting of any House or Senate redistricting commission or judicial panel to be public and held in accordance with the state’s open meetings law.
The constitution specifies that House and Senate district maps be drawn every ten years, following the national census. Citizen committees are appointed first to draw maps, and if those panels are not able to reach a decision, the map drawing process is turned over to a six-member committee of state judges selected by the Missouri Supreme Court.
In a prepared statement released by his office, Crowell said the secrecy of the judicial panel “simply cheated (the public’s) right to
participate in and understand the process in which they would be
represented in the General Assembly.”
Crowell’s proposal would have to pass both the House and Senate and then would be voted on by Missouri citizens during a general election.