Wed, 10/28/2020 - 12:27pm admin
David Evans (R-154)
At the Capitol, we are currently between legislative sessions, but rumors have been circulating in Jefferson City that we will be called back into session before the end of the year to do more work on the budget. On one hand, it’s great to report that our Missouri economy has strongly rebounded from the extensive COVID shutdowns imposed earlier this year. However, COVID continues to cause economic uncertainty, and some economic sectors, such as tourism, will take much longer to recover.
I’ll circle around back to budget issues, but first, it’s important to mention 2 ballot issues that are on the ballot for November 3rd.
The first is labeled as “Amendment 1” for the 2020 November ballot. Voters already approved “Amendment 2” on Medicaid expansion during the August 2020 ballot.
Amendment 1 is a straight forward issue. If approved, the Lt. Governor, State Auditor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State will also be limited to two-four year terms (a total of 8 years) in office. The Governor and Treasurer are already term limited to two-four year terms. Likewise, State Senators (for two-four year terms) and State Representatives (for four-two year terms) are already limited to a total of 8 years. Amendment 1 will make the 8-year total term limitation apply consistently across the board to all state political offices. I voted to put Amendment I on the ballot and let the voters decide.
I also voted to place Amendment 3 on the ballot for the voters to decide. Amendment 3 is intended to clarify the legal mess caused by drafters of the 2018 Amendment 1 (commonly referred to as “Clean Missouri”). The 2018 Amendment 1 (Clean Missouri) did do a few good things. It placed additional limitations on contributions to campaign committees and on gifts to legislators. Nobody disagrees that those were positive changes to Missouri law. However, more than 2/3rds of the original bill was lawyer gobbledygook. Even though the goal of modern legal writing is to communicate clearly and concisely, the drafters of the 2018 “Clean” initiative petition must have missed that class. The drafters of Clean Missouri attempted to make extensive changes to our legislative redistricting procedures in the name of political correctness.
I’ll do my best to summarize the gaping legal holes left by the 2018 amendment that Amendment 3 is written to fix by clarifying the following 5 major areas of confusion caused by drafters of “Clean” Missouri:
1. 2020 Amendment 3 clarification: Reinstates a 20-member bipartisan commission (10 appointed by each of the 2 major parties) to actually draw the new redistricting maps;
The 2018 confusing “Clean” version: One person draws the new maps and that individual is called the “state demographer.” In 2018, the only state wide elected official representing the Democratic Party was and remains our state auditor. The 2018 version gives the state auditor the exclusive authority to designate the final 3 candidates for this partisan selected state demographer’s job. Quoting the actual constitutional change, “Second, the state auditor shall deliver to the majority leader and minority leader of the senate a list of at least three applicants with sufficient expertise and qualifications, as determined by the state auditor…” To me, this is a terribly unfair partisan change. Neither a democrat, nor a republican, nor a single member of any party should be given this exclusive authority.
2. 2020 Amendment 3 clarification: Reinstates the long established and accepted legal standard that all districts must be “compact and contiguous” as a primary factor to prevent gerrymandering in redistricting;
The 2018 confusing and convoluted “Clean” version: Subjects the “compact” district requirement to a completely new standard requiring political fairness and no “wasted votes.” It’s hard for me to believe, but because of the confusion caused by “Clean” legalese, any vote over the 50% plus one threshold needed for victory is constitutionally now declared to be a “wasted” vote. The demographer is required to redraw all maps “to ensure” as “close to zero” deviance as possible. In practical terms, this means the state demographer must redraw almost all current Missouri state voting districts specifically moving blue voters to red districts (as well as red voters to blue districts) to ensure in all future elections this convoluted 50-50 political correctness. Meaning, its ok under the “Clean” version to gerrymander as long as it achieves political correctness.
Wow! Again, it’s hard to believe, but this is the actual language taken from both “Clean Missouri” and our current Missouri Constitution, Article III, Section 3, (please also check it out at the official Missouri Statutes Revisor website):
Quoting Article III, Section 3, Missouri Constitution: ”’Wasted votes’ are votes cast for a losing candidate or for a winning candidate in excess of the fifty percent threshold needed for victory. In any plan of apportionment and map of the proposed districts submitted to the respective apportionment commission, the nonpartisan state demographer shall ensure the difference between the two parties' total wasted votes, divided by the total votes cast for the two parties, is as close to zero as practicable.”
3. 2020 Amendment 3 clarification: Reinstates the requirement that the final map drawn by the bipartisan commission must be approved by at least a 70% vote of the bipartisan commission;
The 2018 Confusing “Clean” version: Completely flips the 70% approval requirement, and instead, requires that any attempted change to the demographer’s map must be approved by a 70% committee vote (consisting of 10 democrats and 10 republicans);
4. 2020 Amendment 3 clarification: If the bipartisan commission cannot agree on the final map, the Supreme Court of Missouri is directed to appoint a 6-member special commission of appellate Missouri judges to draw the maps;
The 2018 Confusing “Clean” version: If the commission cannot agree to any changes to the demographer’s version, the partisan appointed demographer’s version is final;
5. 2020 Amendment 3 clarification: Reinstates on constitutional claims trial court review with automatic right of direct appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court of any approved redistricting plan;
The 2018 Confusing “Clean” version: Completely deleted (eliminates) the historic right of automatic court review of legislative redistricting plans. If we were actually told who wrote the 2018 “Clean” version, it would be a very good question to ask that group of special interest attorney lobbyists why it’s a good idea to eliminate the long established procedure authorizing independent nonpartisan court review of legislative redistricting maps?
Please study the issues and vote your conscience, but I’m voting for these much needed clarifications. Sadly, because of the millions of advertising dollars being spent on disinformation by special interest lobbyists, pollsters predict Amendment 3 has only a slim chance of approval. These issues are important. The differences in candidates at both the state and national levels are also critically important. Please help get out the vote.
I might have rambled a bit too much in this article, so I’ll save some headaches and come back to important budget issues in the next report. I do believe that two of the most important issues facing Missouri in the coming year are political map redistricting and difficult budget issues--so I’ll be sure and double back to discuss budget concerns next time.
If you have other concerns and suggestions, please let me know. I look forward to going back to session representing the common sense, conservative values of the Ozarks. If you would like to schedule a specific time to meet locally, please call Sarah in my office at 573-751-1455, or please contact my office by email at email@example.com.