Thu December 15, 2011
Mo. proposal calls for open redistricting meetings
Updated 1:48 p.m. with quote from Crowell, more information.
A Missouri senator wants to change the secretive process used to draw new legislative districts.
Republican Sen. Jason Crowell, of Cape Girardeau, is proposing a constitutional amendment to require redistricting commissions to follow the state's public meetings and open records law.
He said redistricting is fundamental to the democratic process, and new boundaries for state legislative seats should not be drawn behind closed doors.
"Changing the makeup of a legislative district can have a dramatic effect on how Missourians' voice is represented in the Missouri Senate and House," said Crowell who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election next year. "Judges should not be able to hide from citizens when making such important decisions."
Crowell's proposal will be considered by colleagues when the annual legislative session begins in January.
State House and Senate districts are redrawn every 10 years based on new census figures. Special commissions with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats get the first try at the new maps. If they cannot agree, a panel of appeals court judges takes over.
This year, the appellate judges were responsible for the House and Senate maps. They developed the maps behind closed doors after accepting public testimony for one day. The judges said they did not believe they were required to follow state open meetings laws.