Missouri legislature sends redistricting, campaign finance, and lobbying measure to voters with changes to 2018 citizen initiative

On Wednesday, the Missouri House approved Senate Joint Resolution 38 that would amend Article III of the Missouri Constitution to change or repeal certain provisions of Missouri Amendment 1 passed in 2018. The House approved the amendment in a vote of 98-56. The Senate approved the amendment in a vote of 22-9 on February 10. The amendment will go be for Missouri voters in November.

The amendment would enact the following changes:
• eliminate the nonpartisan state demographer and instead use a bipartisan redistricting commission appointed by the governor again;
• alter the criteria used to draft district maps;
• change the threshold of lobbyist gifts from $5 to $0; and
• lower the contribution limit for state senate campaigns from $2,500 to $2,400.

Missouri Amendment 1 (2018) was a citizen initiative approved with 62 percent of the vote. Amendment 1 created a position called the non-partisan state demographer, which was tasked with drawing state legislative districts. Amendment 1 required the state demographer and commissions to consider specific criteria, including what the initiative calls partisan fairness and competitiveness, contiguousness, compactness, and the boundaries of political subdivisions. SJR 38 would require that population size, adherence to voting rights laws, compactness, and county unity have a higher priority than partisan fairness and competitiveness in the criteria used for redistricting.

Amendment 1 also prohibited the Missouri State Legislature from passing laws allowing for unlimited campaign contributions to candidates for the state legislature. Amendment 1 established campaign contribution limits for legislative candidates and their committees for a single election cycle to $2,500 per person to a state Senate candidate and $2,000 per person to a state House candidate.

The 2018 initiated constitutional amendment was sponsored by Clean Missouri. The coalition of committees in support of the amendment raised $5.63 million, including $1.01 million from the Action Now Initiative and $1.00 million from the National Education Association. The Missourians First and Advance Missouri PACs, which registered to oppose Amendment 1, raised $343,201.

In Missouri, the state legislature can refer state statutes and constitutional amendments to the ballot for voter consideration. Both amendments and statutes require a simple majority vote of legislators to be placed on the ballot.

Between 1996 and 2018, about 63 percent (52 of 82) of the total number of measures that appeared on statewide ballots were approved, and about 37 percent (30 of 82) were defeated.

Between 2006 and 2019, 73.33 percent of the 30 constitutional amendments on Missouri ballots were approved.

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