An apportionment committee is hearing testimony for and against various maps of proposed new House and Senate Districts based on the 2010 Census. The committee heard from members of the Senate and others on Senate districts this morning and is taking testimony on House districts this afternoon.
Several members of the general assembly have been outspoken on the topic, urging the panel to keep certain counties together, keep rural and urban areas separate and to do what’s best for constituents. Talk of what’s in the best interests of school districts, river communities, and even economic drivers such as shopping areas have been discussed.
The apportionment committee says it’s not surprised by any of the testimony heard thus far and points out that certain areas in the state have been extremely vocal in how they would like to see their respective districts drawn, namely Springfield, St. Louis and Kansas City.
Senator Kevin Engler of Farmington tells the panel everyone who says they’re not testifying for their own political gain are wrong. He says his district was gerrymandered ten years ago, but argues that having outlying areas some three hours away from a Senator’s or Representative’s home base is not going to best serve the interest of those people.
The apportionment committee has three months to make a decision on the maps, but says it doesn’t yet know if it will use all of that allotted time. The committee chairwoman also says she’s not surprised by any of the testimony heard today, and that she thinks it’s been a balanced spread of opinion and testimony from both sides of the aisle.
The maps can be viewed here: http://oa.mo.gov/bp/redistricting/senatedownload.htm