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Redistricting causes a slow down in the House

March 29, 2001
By: Renny MacKay
State Capital Bureau

The first half of the legislative session in Jefferson City has been quite peaceful. The Missouri House in particular has seen the two parties working together quite well, but that all changed when the issue of redistricting came up.

Renny MacKay tells us how this contentious issue reared its head.

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Two weeks ago the census figures came out and that meant the issue of redistricting legislative districts was looming on the horizon. Now, the Missouri general assembly is staring the task in the face.

Governor Bob Holden named the bipartisan commissions whose chore it is to map out Missouri's state congressional and senate districts. He said he tried to ensure all Missourians are represented on those commissions.

But Republicans like Catherine Hanaway say the governor didn't represent them fairly.

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Contents: Hanaway says the governor's commissions are a machete in the eye of Republicans, because the governor in fulfilling his constitutional duties snubbed the Republicans.

What Hanaway and other Republicans are upset about is that the governor named Republican Representative Mark Richardson to both commissions... why is that a problem?

Representative Richardson says he doesn't want to serve on the commissions.

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Contents: Richardson says that a month ago he sent a letter of resignation to the governor, and was surprised to find out he had been named to the commission.

The Governor's acting communications director, Rob Crouse says the constitution allows the governor to name someone to the commission once they've been nominated by their party, no matter what.

Richardson was one of two names provided to the governor to represent his district on the commission. The other nominee was David Barklage, Republican Senator Peter Kinder's chief of staff.

Rob Crouse says the governor didn't want to be forced to pick him.

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Contents: Crouse says naming him wouldn't have helped create a bipartisan commission because Barklage is so involved in the Republican party.

Republicans say they offered other names after Richardson resigned from the commission.

But, whether someone else can now be named to the commission may have to be decided by the courts.

No matter what, the move angered Republicans in the House and things started to slow down according to House Floor Leader and Democrat Wayne Crump.

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Contents: Crump says there was a slow down today because of what the governor did.

The sponsor of one of those consent bills is Democrat Chuck Graham. He agrees with Crump that things were slowed down.

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Contents: Graham says a Republican representative even came up to him after the debate and said he'd been ordered to slow things down because of the governor's actions.

Graham wouldn't name the representative and the person who debated with him the longest, Richard Byrd says he had real concerns about the bill and that he wasn't told to stall.

Republican Whip, Charlie Shields also denies the accusation.

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Contents: Shields says it wasn't orchestrated, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

Last year the House moved slowly because of tension surrounding the tobacco settlement and Floor Leader Wayne Crump was hoping the House had moved past that partisanship.

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Contents: Crump says he hates to see things blow up after they had been working well together.

Crump says he hopes the Republican leadership and the governor can get together and work things out.

In Jefferson City, I'm Renny MacKay.