April 7, 2011

Congressional Redistricting Proposals Pitch Big Changes for Scotland County

In today's economy, most investors would be tickled with 7% interest, but for Missourians that measure of growth was not quite good enough to maintain its piece of the pie in the United States House of Representatives.

The 2010 Census numbers revealed a 7% percent population increase in the state over the past decade. However that figure did not keep pace with the rest of the nation, meaning Missouri will lose one seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, dropping from nine to eight districts.

If current proposals from the Missouri state legislators charged with redistricting the state in preparation for the change hold true, Missouri's political picture is poised to change dramatically.

Currently Scotland County is part of Missouri District 9, served by Blaine Luetkemeyer of St. Elizabeth.

Memphis is near the northwest corner of the district, which includes parts of 25 counties. stretching south to include Kirksville and Columbia, with a western border just west of Highway 63. The district goes far enough south to include part of the Lake of the Ozarks region and goes east to the state line, excluding the three districts in the St. Louis region.

That will change dramatically in 2012 if the proposed redistricting maps released this week come to fruition.

The chairman of the House committee responsible for drawing the boundaries for Missouri's congressional districts is continuing his commitment to ensure an open and transparent process as the legislature begins considering map proposals.

On April 1, Rep. John J. Diehl, Jr., R-Town and Country, released a map proposed by fellow Democrat committee member, Rep. Ron Casey, D-Crystal City, whose house district is in the existing 3rd Congressional District. Previously, Diehl had released a map he had proposed for the redistricting.

"This has been a fair and open process from the start and we will maintain that approach as the process moves forward," said Diehl. "Our goal is to ensure a transparent process as we work to create a map that ensures adequate and fair representation for each and every Missourian. It is my intention to give Representative Casey the opportunity to make the case to the committee that his map is a better alternative to the one presented to the committee earlier in the week"

The House Special Standing Committee on Redistricting met twice last week to discuss Diehl's proposed map that will divide Missouri into eight congressional districts. Before the map was proposed, the committee held a series of hearings around the state during the month of March to take input from the public. Public testimony was then used in combination with 2010 Census data to generate the initial map.

"We have worked hard to ensure that the public can be heard throughout the important process and I am pleased with the work that the committee has done thus far," said Diehl.

Under both proposals, Scotland County would become part of District 6 which would stretch across all of north Missouri. It would basically combine the former 6th District of northwest Missouri, with the north half of District 9. The new district 6 would include all or part of 35 counties.

It would mean new representation for Scotland County, as Congressman Luetkemeyer's hometown of St. Elizabeth, which is southeast of Jefferson City, would now be in District 3.

Missouri received initial 2010 census data in December that showed the state would be reduced from nine to eight congressional districts. The Missouri General Assembly must draw and approve new congressional districts during the 2011 regular session to ensure proper filing in February 2012 for congressional district candidates.

HB 193 is the congressional redistricting bill. Interactive versions of the maps proposed by both the Republicans and Democrats on the committee are available online on the House of Representatives website at http://www.house.mo.gov/news.aspx?id=420.

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