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Missouri Republicans revive push to change redistricting

May 1, 2020 GMT

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — After weeks off work over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, Missouri’s Republican-led Legislature is once again making a push to change state redistricting rules.

A House committee on Thursday advanced the proposal, which would ask voters yet again to change redistricting rules.

Missourians in 2018 voted to make “partisan fairness” and “competitiveness” top criteria in deciding the boundaries of state House and Senate districts. The Republican proposal would shift those to the least important criteria.

Republican sponsor Sen. Dan Hegeman, of Cosby, said the policy adopted by voters in 2018 “mixes and mangles” communities.

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On Thursday, Democrats questioned Republicans for reviving the push to change redistricting in the middle of a pandemic.

“I just feel like we could spend our time on things we can agree on to address the crisis,” Kansas City Democratic Rep. Jon Carpenter said. “This is going to divide us at a time when we need to be united.”

St. Louis Democratic Rep. Peter Merideth also raised concerns that few members of the public attended the Thursday hearing on the bill because Gov. Mike Parson’s statewide stay-at-home order is in effect through Sunday, although the public is allowed in the Capitol to watch legislative proceedings.