JEFFERSON CITY - Without any Democratic opposition, a state Senate committee adopted a redistricting plan Monday that would eliminate the St. Louis congressional district currently occupied by Demcratic U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan.
The Senate Redistricting Committee unanimously passed its proposal, which is similar to a plan proposed in a House committee last week that also eliminates the St. Louis district. The House Redistricting committee has yet to vote on its own redistricting proposal.
2010 census data revealed that Missouri's population didn't grow as quickly as other states, so state legislators need to eliminate one of Missouri's nine congressional districts. Their goal is to form eight districts with an equal population contained in each.
Both the Senate and House committees have created maps that combine two St. Louis congressional districts into one. The Senate map also proposes to split Jefferson County among three districts while expanding the sixth district across the northern part of the state.
Committee Chairman Sen. Scott Rupp, R-St. Charles County, said one of the biggest issues was trying to apportion an equal population in each district.
"Every single district had to gain population due to the loss of the congressional seat," Rupp said. "Now some districts had to gain far more population; for example, the city of St. Louis in the first district had to gain 161,000 people."
According to the Senate committee's proposal, each new district will have a population of 748,616 — aside from the seventh district in southwestern Missouri, which will have one less person.
"Our committee's attempt was to make [the districts] equal in population and also to try and make them as contiguous and compact as possible and take into consideration the existing district lines," Rupp said.
Rupp said the committee tried to keep the proposed districts demographically and geographically similar to the current ones, but population shifts were the main influences while creating the map.
"We have found some counties that grew extremely large and some that have lost population, so that did kind of guide the thinking of how to draw these congressional lines," Rupp said.
The Senate's proposed map awaits a vote on the Senate floor before moving to the House, while the congressional redistricting process must be finished by the end of the legislative session.