Rep. John Diehl (R) holds a press conference in the House Lounge of the State Capitol

Missouri will lose one of its Congressional seats based on the latest U.S. Census data. It will be up to the state legislature to determine which Congressman’s seat ‘disappears.’

Representative John Diehl of Town and Country, the Chair of the House Committee on Redistricting, says for now all the committee knows is Missouri is losing a Congressional seat. The more specific, regional and local data isn’t expected from the Census Bureau for another month or two.

“Our staff over the past couple of weeks has been working closely with (the Office of Administration) to pull together background information that we know is out there in terms of voting patterns, population, voting registrations, that type of stuff. So we can at least start looking at and preparing some preliminary game plans on how we’re going to handle it once we get the complete information,” Diehl said.

During a Jefferson City press conference shortly after the census data was released, Diehl said he thought it was likely the proposal for the new districts would originate out of the House, because he believes his committee may be further along in the process than state senators.

Diehl was asked about speculation that the St. Louis area may lose one of its three seats; specifically Russ Carnahan’s District 3 seat.

“I’m gonna make a pretty clear statement that all that is at this point, is speculation. We received our apportionment number (Tuesday) morning. What we don’t know is where the people are in the state. I think we have some ideas or concepts in terms of where the population shifts may or may not be, but there have been absolutely no determinations made there have been no maps drawn,” Diehl said.

Diehl was asked whether he felt pressure to draw the lines to benefit his fellow Republicans.
“My pressure is… for this committee to draw a map that can override a Governor’s veto…. So this committee can’t successfully draw a map unless it’s bipartisan,” Diehl said.

The new districts will have to be passed by the state House and Senate like any other bill, and will go to the Governor’s desk.

“If he vetoes the bill we would have to override his veto just as any other bill, which would require 109 House members and the Senate is, I believe, veto-proof assuming you keep everybody together over there. So if we don’t override the veto it would go to the courts, which would draw the map, which has happened in the past,” Diehl said.

A federal court had to re-draw the congressional district lines in 1971 and 1981. Republicans currently control 106 seats in the state House.

Diehl says his office has already had contact with many of the state’s Congressmen or their aides, but says they’re just one piece of the puzzle. He says he plans to keep this process “transparent.”

“I don’t want to lead the misconception that the Congressmen are going to get in a room and draw this map; I mean this is a public process. We’re gonna go and we’re gonna take public testimony, and that’s an important part of this process to talk about communities of interest. Which cities belong together in a district, which counties belong together, which don’t. Where the minority population lives, can you draw a minority district that’s compact and contiguous, those types of things are going to be very important” Diehl said.

AUDIO: Ryan Famuliner reports [1 min MP3]