Congressional map debate in limbo in Missouri Senate | Politics

JEFFERSON CITY — The fate of Missouri’s congressional maps remained in limbo Wednesday with time running short in the state’s annual legislative session.

Lawmakers must adjourn by 6 p.m. Friday. While the House on Monday approved a congressional map, talks in the Senate have been complicated by two St. Charles County senators. Without action by lawmakers, three federal judges will take over the task of redrawing the state’s eight congressional districts.

“Don’t have one,” Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, said Wednesday afternoon when asked for an update on the situation.

While Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake Saint Louis, signaled Friday talks were moving in a positive direction, the atmosphere appeared to deteriorate over the weekend.

“The session’s over when the maps come up,” Onder said during an exchange on the Senate floor Tuesday.

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Sen. Bill Eigel, a Weldon Spring Republican, meanwhile, stalled legislative action Wednesday morning and into the afternoon. Through a filibuster, he blocked an unrelated bill addressing health care topics. 

Because committees couldn’t meet while Eigel was speaking, the Senate Redistricting Committee didn’t convene for a noon hearing as had been planned so senators could discuss the House map. 

“I think the maps will come up again before the end of the year,” Senate Minority Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said Wednesday afternoon. “I don’t know how successful it’ll be, but I think at a certain point they’re going to probably try to bring it to the floor.”

Later Wednesday, the redistricting hearing was rescheduled for noon Thursday.

‘Time is of the essence’

The House approved its latest map on Monday, giving the Senate the rest of the week to consider the plan.

At the time, Rep. Peggy McGaugh, R-Carrollton, a former county clerk, said “time is of the essence” as election authorities prepare for the Aug. 2 primary, when congressional district primaries will be on the ballot.

McGaugh said assuming the map is approved Friday, and election authorities can access it Monday, county clerks in jurisdictions with more than one congressional district would have six to seven working days “to move each voter based on their residential address … to the new congressional district.”

McGaugh said the last day to move voters will be May 24.

Boone County Clerk Brianna Lennon, a Democrat, noted the time crunch on Twitter on Wednesday.

“If the map passes Friday & we get the GIS data Monday, counties have 1 week to move voters to their new districts in the state voter reg system,” Lennon said. “We can’t change districts once we start creating the August election on May 24. And absentee ballots need to be ready June 17.”

The map the House approved Monday would likely result in six Republicans and two Democrats from Missouri serving in the U.S. House.

The 1st Congressional District, held by Rep. Cori Bush, D-St. Louis, would include the city of St. Louis, north St. Louis County as well as parts of mid- and south St. Louis County.

The 2nd Congressional District, held by Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, would stretch from Richmond Heights and all the way west to Warren and Franklin counties. The map strengthens the district for Republicans.

The 3rd Congressional District, held by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer, R-St. Elizabeth, would snake from eastern St. Charles County all the way west to Cooper County, in mid-Missouri.

It would include western Jefferson County; eastern Jefferson County would be located in the 8th Congressional District, covering southeast Missouri.

Updated at 8:13 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, with news that the Senate Redistricting Committee scheduled a Thursday hearing.

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