Let’s see where we are now, four days before filing begins for statewide offices and the legislature. It sometimes helps reporters and news consumers to compile a list of statements that tries to add order to what otherwise is, well, chaos at some level. In sports press boxes, this might be called the game summary so far.
If you want to file for a state senate seat next Tuesday morning, you will not know whether your filing is legal or in what district you will live. The citizens commission that drew the new lines has to wait 15 days, well past the opening of filing, to take public comment before it can confirm its 8-2 vote establishing the map.
If you want to file for a seat in the Missouri House you will not know if your filing will be legal and what district you will live in. The Supreme Court will hold a hearing on Monday, the day before filing starts, to consider whether House districts drawn by a panel of judges should go into effect.
If you want to run for Congress, you won’t know if your filing will be legal or what Congressional district to file in because the Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a map drawn by another panel of judges is constitutional.
Why doesn’t somebody do the sensible thing and delay the date for filing to start?
Senator Mike Parson introduced a bill to do just that and it passed the senate. The House changed the date for opening and sent the bill back to the senate. P:arson recommended the senate approve that change.
Problem solved!!! Accept the House change and Tuesday Chaos won’t happen.,
A few Senators who have developed considerable knots in their knickers because they don’t like the way the citizens commission redrew senatorial districts in the St. Louis area convinced Parsons to pull his bill from the floor until the commission returns to Jefferson City this weekend to redraw the St. Louis districts, preferably in a way the St. Louis Senators (of both parties) suggested they be drawn. And when the commission does that, then the senate can approve the bill delaying filing. The Senate returns Monday afternoon when the senate comes back at 4 p.m., all of 16 hours before hundreds of people could show up at the Secretary of State’s office to file for districts that would not be in effect even if the commission does redraw the lines this weekend. For the senate districts. And the commission isn’t going to do that.
Further, only God and the Supreme Court know whether there will be congressional and Missouri House districts by Tuesday.
Somehow Parson’s apple has wound up in a bag of oranges being swung around by some upset St. Louis senators.
The chairman of the citizens commission told us minutes after the Senate adjourned Thursday that the commission absolutely would not re-convene. He says the map the St. Louis senators want the commission to endorse is illegal and doesn’t work with the rest of the state. He says sitting senators are not constitutionally permitted to be members of the citizens commission and that it would be a violation of the commission’s constitutional responsibility to draw the maps if it let the St. Louis group dictate how their districts should look.
One senator says the St. Louis area is the economic engine of the state and cannot lose representation in the Senate. But, says the chairman of the commission, the “economic engine” has lost a lot of people in the last decade and it’s census numbers that determine representation in the Senate. And the census numbers indicate the St. Louis area is going to lose one seat.
The fun might continue if the senate returns on Monday and does not pass the Parson bill. Secretary of State Robin Carnahan says she will have no choice but to let people file for office Tuesday morning in the existing House, Senate, and Congressional districts (assuming the Supreme Court doesn’t burst forth with some rulings upholding new district lines).
If she does, look for a federal lawsuit to be filed almost immediately. Population shifts in the ten years since those districts were drawn leave them badly out of balance, violating the one-person, one-vote federal standard. And of course that means that those who have filed in those districts are not seeking office in a constitutional district.
As nearly as we can tell, the legislature has not yet affected the filing for U. S. Senate, Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Attorney General, and Treasurer.