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Missouri Republicans plan to repeal voter-approved redistricting process

For a second time, Missouri republicans could attempt an overhaul of the state's redistricting process, which was put in place by voters in 2018.

The current process was included in Amendment 1, also known as Clean Missouri, a petition-borne measure centered on ethics reform that was approved by more than 60 percent of Missouri voters.

The amendment, in part, created the position of non-partisan state demographer, who is tasked with redrawing the state's legislative districts after the census. A group of state lawmakers would then approve the districts.

Rep. David Wood (R, Versailles) said changing the process will be a priority among Republicans during the legislative session, which began on Wednesday.

Wood, a senior Republican representative and vice-chair of the House budget committee, said the process is problematic of the requirement that districts be shaped, in part, based on "partisan fairness and, secondarily, competitiveness."

The result, Wood said, would be strangely-shaped districts that do not serve the Missourians living in them.

"If you make that balance between two parties, republican and democrat, and you're stretching out that district over a greater distance, you lose some of that commonality and it becomes very hard to represent that effectively," Wood said.

Wood said he expects this issue to come up in the Republican-controlled legislature "fairly quickly."

Democratic leadership in the House calls the effort to change the process a Republican power grab.

"I find this whole conversation just disrespectful, to be honest with you," said Rep. Crystal Quade, the House Minority Floor Leader from Springfield.

“For an elected official to say, look, our voters were smart enough to send me here, but not smart enough to know what else they were voting on— as a citizen, I don’t know, (it) frustrates me," Quade said.

"It makes sense that the majority party wants to have control," said Columbia Rep. Kip Kendrick, the ranking Democrat on the House budget committee.

A measure proposed by Springfield Republican Rep. Curtis Trent would overhaul the state demographer position and the redistricting process.

While the issue is discussed by lawmakers, the selection of a state demographer continues. Republican and Democratic leadership in the Senate are reviewing six applicants submitted by State Auditor Nicole Galloway for the position.

Last year, a Republican-backed bill that would have reversed the redistricting process failed in committee after two Republican lawmakers were not present for a vote, forcing a tie.

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Barry Mangold

Barry Mangold reports for ABC 17 News on weekday evenings and anchors weekend evening broadcasts.

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