State lawmakers, who couldn’t reach agreement on new Congressional districts during an overnight meeting last week, suddenly find a compromise. They have approved a redistricting map and sent it to Governor Nixon.
A meeting between House and Senate negotiators that began early Thursday evening last week and stretched into the early hours of Friday morning failed to reach a compromise. Things changed on Wednesday this week. House Redistricting Committee Chairman John Diehl, a Republican from Town and Country, says there was magic to Wednesday.
“If we want to get this addressed before we leave on May 13th and resolve any veto issue one way or the other, then today was probably the last day to try to get a bill to the governor and I think that’s what force the discussion today,” Diehl says.
Passage gives the Republican-dominated legislature the opportunity during the regular session to override any possible veto by Democratic Governor Jay Nixon without having to wait until the annual veto session in September.
Though Diehl got only 96 votes on the map, he expects all Republicans to vote to override and believes he has a shot at enough Democrats to assemble an override majority of 109 votes.
“I think that would be interesting question and I think you’re going to see some interesting dynamics there,” according to Diehl.
The Senate vote seems secure at 27-7, well over the two-thirds majority needed for a gubernatorial veto override.
Neither side seemed to budge after the lengthy and fruitless conference committee meeting last week. The conferees, in fact, never formally met again. Negotiations, though, continued quietly and coalesced Wednesday. A conference committee report won a majority of the senators and representatives and quickly went to the House chamber for a vote, then moved to the Senate.
The sticking points could be found in two counties: St. Charles and Jefferson. The House originally drew a map moving 159,533 residents into the 2nd Congressional District. The Senate had 58,823 residents in that district. The two compromised and moved 134,878 residents into the 2nd. The House originally had 102,716 residents of Jefferson County in the 8th Congressional District which extends down to the Bootheel. The Senate had 42,008. The two settled on 60,494.
House Democrats have sent Gov. Nixon a letter urging him to veto the measure.
“It is the view of the Democratic Caucus that the redistricting plan contained in said bill fails to protect the interests of Missouri voters and must not be allowed to become law,” wrote House Minority Leader Mike Talboy, a Democrat from Kansas City.
One House Democrat, Rep. Joe Aull of Marshall, has written the Chief Clerk of the House, making a formal objection to the constitutionality of the map. Aull contends the map, in particular the 5th Congressional District, violates the state constitutional requirement that the districts be compact.
Missouri lost a congressional district after the 2010 Census determined that the state’s growth rate didn’t keep pace with the rest of the nation.
Click here for Google map of Congressional Districts.