Voter, lawmaker weigh in on proposed changes to ‘Clean Missouri’

Lawmakers try to override voters

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - Nearly two thirds of Missouri voters passed Amendment One back in November, but now six months later state lawmakers are pushing through proposals to undo parts of it.

Amendment One, also known as “Clean Missouri” restricts lobbying, set limits to gifts and campaign contributions and made legislative records open to the public.

One part of the constitutional amendment that many lawmakers are contending with is a new process to redraw state legislative districts.

Control of the map would be in the hands of a nonpartisan demographer appointed by the State Auditor, but legislators want to resort back to the former system where they help elect a bipartisan citizens commission to be in charge.

Southeast Missouri State University student Eli Bohnert voted for Clean Missouri in 2018 and thinks its disturbing that state lawmakers are now trying to change the will of the voters.

“People are really begging for their politicians to be more transparent and better selected,” Bohnert said. “It's really damaging to our democracy because its another example of politicians getting to decide who is going to elect them and that is not what we want in our system."

Bohnert believes the system he voted for would make political districts more fair and competitive by using mathematical formulas.

"We want elections where people have to fight for the voter,” Bohnert said. “We don't want election where they are just going to run on through and nobody is going to run against them because they are so safe in their seat."

Cape Girardeau State Representative Kathy Swan was one of the 100 Missouri House members that voted ‘Yes’ to changing what a majority of their constituents approved in November.

In a statement she back up her belief that the original system is more ‘transparent’ than Amendment One saying:

“‘Partisan fairness’ is best accomplished by utilizing a bipartisan commission of people from around the state, rather than one state employee, a demographer, who reports to one state officeholder,” Swan said.

Political science professor James Newman says he has discussed the proposed changes to Clean Missouri with students in his state and local governments class.

“It’s really an unusual situation. It’s extremely rare for this to happen,” Newman said. "This isn’t a Republican or Democrat issue. This really is an issue of state legislators having their decision making authority removed."

Newman says lawmakers still want a say in who draws the map so they can protect community interests and partisan interests of the communities they represent.

“Do you make it very objective, nonpartisan and non political? Or do you allow politics to be considered in this?” Newman said. “Politics is a reflection of the voters interests and people want their voices to be heard. Their voices may not be heard in this nonpartisan process.”

Professor Newman thinks it’s very likely that the proposal to change parts of Amendment One’s will pass both chambers and be signed by Gov. Mike Parson.

“So this will go before the voters,” Newman said. “They are ironing out the details, right now, but it probably be during the primary or general election in 2020.”

Under the current version of the bill Bohnert says he plans to vote ‘No’ when he sees this issue brought back up at the polls.

“If you want the status quo vote ‘Yes’, if you want change vote ‘No,’” Bohnert said. “I think it is waste of money and time for state legislators to be changing what the voters wanted. I understand that it may not be perfect but work on improving it instead of trying to detract from it and make it worse.”

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