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28 January 2012

Torpey: More Problems With Redistricting Maps

As we wrap up the third full week of session, it is clear to me that my peers and I are committed to getting things accomplished early on. Although floor debate is typically at a minimum this time of year, we have heard a few bills this week and begun to debate them as they move through the legislative process. Due to limited debate late in the week, we decided to hold Technical Session on Thursday, meaning we did not need to be in Jefferson City, in order to save tax payer money. As session continues, I have the feeling that slow floor debate will keep us out of the building on Thursdays (until the budget bills come to the floor) to save tax payers as much as we can this year. And although we may not have too much going on in the chamber, committees are meeting at rapid rates in order to weed through legislation to get the most promising bills to the House floor.

I also want to mention that my office is lucky enough to have two part-time interns this year. Matthew Lakamp, of St. Louis, is a junior studying Political Science at the University of Missouri and will be joining us on Mondays and Wednesdays; Natascha Lord, of Waynesville, is a junior studying International Business and German at Missouri Southern State University and will be joining us on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I am truly blessed to have these bright students in our office, helping me to better serve constituents of the 52nd District.

More Problems with Redistricting Maps

Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the results of Missouri’s House and Senate redistricting following the 2010 Census. Last week, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled two proposed State Senate maps to be unconstitutional, and this week a lawsuit was filed to throw out the proposed House of Representatives map as well, based on the same language used to throw out the Senate maps. The bipartisan lawsuit alleges that the new district maps do not contain districts of nearly legal population (as the state Constitution requires) and that the districts are not as geographically “compact” as the law requires. All of this comes barely a month before the deadline for Missouri candidates to file for office on February 28.

The Governor is currently forming a new citizen’s commission to begin drafting a new redistricting plan for the Senate. The outcome of the lawsuit filed in protest of the House redistricting plan is less certain. On Wednesday, Attorney General Chris Koster decided he would argue the case in front of the Missouri Supreme Court. Oral arguments are slated to begin this Friday, and a verdict could come as soon as Monday. At the legislature, we are exploring the possibility of pushing back the filing deadline to a later date so that the courts will have time to decide the fate of the House redistricting plan and the citizen’s commission will have the opportunity to create a new, acceptable Senate map. I will keep you updated as this story continues to unfold.

Sponsored Legislation

  • HB 1465 (sponsor)—Changes the laws regarding the compulsory school attendance of certain students.
  • HB 1464 (sponsor)—Prohibits state-wide elected officials or members of the General Assembly elected to their first term on or after November 2, 2012, from acting, serving, or registering as a lobbyist within one year of leaving office.
  • HB1214 (sponsor)—Establishes the Missouri Entrepreneur Resources Virtual Network to provide resources for the development of businesses; referred to the Committee on Small Business.
  • HB 1470 (co-sponsor)—Expands the list of mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect to include coaches, youth leaders, and any volunteer who has direct contact with children.
  • HB 1459 (co-sponsor)—Disqualifies a person from membership on a school board if such person has a substantiated report of child abuse or neglect on the child abuse and neglect registry.
  • HB 1399 (co-sponsor)—Requires the injection of therapeutic substances around the spine or spinal cord for the treatment of pain syndromes by certain methods be performed only by a licensed physician.
  • HB 1334 (co-sponsor)—Establishes the Fair Fare Passenger Safety Act of 2012 which prohibits any person operating a motor vehicle for compensation and transporting passengers from using a hand-held wireless communication device.
  • HB 1317 (co-sponsor)—Expands the crime of child abuse to include shaken baby syndrome.
  • You can find further information on these bills via the House webpage:

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