Missouri Senate passes 6-2 GOP majority congressional map that spares Rep. Emanuel Cleaver
The Senate-approved map consolidates the district of Congressman Emanuel Cleaver to parts of Jackson and Clay Counties, eliminating more Republican-leaning areas to the east. The change would make the district even more safely Democratic while shoring up GOP control of neighboring districts.
After more than a month of at times contentious debate and intense discussions behind the scenes, the Missouri Senate agreed to a congressional redistricting map on Thursday.
Senators voted 22-10 to pass a Senate substitute of the map the House approved in January. It retains a likely 6-2 Republican majority in Congress. But because the Senate changed the bill, it must pass the House again before going to Gov. Mike Parson.
The final vote came after five hours of debate on the Senate floor Thursday starting at 7 a.m. Debate in early February included a rare Friday and a Saturday session.
Ultimately, an amended map put forward by Sen. Andrew Koenig, R-Manchester, was approved.
Speaking after the map passed, Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said many senators did not get everything they wanted.
“It is absolutely a map that a lot of people don’t love, which was the only way this thing was gonna get done,” Rowden said.
The bill does make several changes compared to its House predecessor. Some of those include additional counties split between two districts, including Boone and Franklin counties.
The map also keeps Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base in the same district. The House version split them up.
But one thing the Senate version of the map does not change from the House map is the breakdown by party of who’s going to Washington, with the current delegation breakdown of six Republicans and two Democrats likely staying the same.
For months, members of the Conservative Caucus, which normally consists of seven Senators in the 34-member body, have been advocating for a 7-1 Republican majority map, which would have required splitting the Kansas City area into two districts.
While the Senate map keeps the Kansas City area intact, most of the Conservative Caucus still voted for the final map, with only two, Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis and Sen. Mike Moon, R-Ash Grove, voting no.
According to caucus member Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, putting the two military bases into a single district was one reason why the caucus liked the new map more than the House version. Another was the addition of more likely Republican voters to the 2nd District, which is currently represented by Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin.
“I expect that seat is most likely going to remain in Republican hands over the next 10 years. And I think that is in line and in keeping with the values and perspectives of the people of the state,” Eigel said.
Missouri is one of the few states that have yet to pass a congressional redistricting map, despite candidate filing for the August primary having started over a month ago. Several lawsuits filed due to a lack of congressional lines brought a possibility of the courts ultimately drawing the districts, which could have been more favorable to Democrats.
Even with that possibility, the bill also received support from some Democrats. Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said he’d rather the Senate pass it.
“The taxpayers have put us here to do a job. And whatever that job might be, especially if it's a constitutional requirement, we should do that job,” Rizzo said.
Another change the Senate made is adding an emergency clause, something the House failed to do. If the emergency clause manages to remain on the bill, the new map would go into effect as soon as Parson signs it into law, as opposed to after the Aug. 2. primary.
The clause passed 30-2.
Rizzo said one reason why Democrats supported the emergency clause while not all agreed with the map is they didn’t want Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, making the decision about the primary date.
“As Democrats, we should be a little worried when he's in charge of when things are going to be implemented,” Rizzo said.
The House is expected to take up the Senate bill early next week. Rowden said he hopes the House will include the emergency clause.
“It does create a little bit more uncertainty [that] I'm certainly not in love with. So hopefully our vote was a good example to the House of how you can get that done,” Rowden said.
House approves sports betting
Missouri is a step closer to having legalized sports gambling.
The House on Thursday approved a bill setting up the framework for betting. The measure would allow fans to place bets at the state’s 13 casinos or use online platforms like FanDuel or Draft Kings.
Gambling would be allowed on professional and college sports, but not on high school games.
Wagering would be phased in over four years. The Missouri Gaming Commission estimates people will spend as much as $150 million a year when the program is fully up and running in 2026. The state would get eight percent of that in taxes.
The measure still needs the approval of the Senate and Gov. Mike Parson, to take effect.
It has the backing of the state’s major sports teams and most of the casino operators.
Reporter Rachel Lippmann contributed to this report.