The Start of the 2022 Legislative Session
The State Capitol is once again alive with the rush of legislative activity, as the Second Regular Session of the 101st General Assembly gets underway. This legislative session, which began on Jan. 5, is sure to be a busy one with a packed agenda. In addition to considering the hundreds of legislative proposals filed this year, the General Assembly will need to pass a state operating budget that funds a host of state functions for the upcoming fiscal year before session ends in mid-May. In the next few weeks, we’ll also be working on a supplemental budget for the current fiscal year, containing the governor’s proposed pay raise for our hardworking state workers.
As if that wasn’t quite enough, this year, lawmakers have the additional responsibility of congressional redistricting, which occurs every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. Census. Currently, Missouri has eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and we’ll be maintaining that number for the next decade. While our state population didn’t grow or shrink enough to gain or lose us a seat in Congress, populations still moved within the state, and our new congressional districts will need to be redrawn to reflect those changes. Redistricting will work to ensure all eight of Missouri’s congressional districts represent roughly the same amount of people.
The proposed congressional district map will be treated essentially like any other piece of legislation. Bills outlining the maps have been filed and will soon start moving through the committee process before eventually coming to the consideration of the full chamber. The Senate committee handling the early work of redistricting will be the Select Committee on Redistricting, which I have the honor of serving as the chairman of.
Now, a lot of hard work has already been carried out by staff and elected officials in regards to the redistricting process. As I said, some initial maps have been proposed, and we’re already seeing some discussion about them. But as with any piece of legislation, I understand lawmakers have differing opinions. I’m sure some will want massive changes to the proposed map, while others will want small tweaks. And as is the spirit of the Legislature, I am sure we will have those discussions and make the necessary changes to reach a consensus to complete this important work. The main situation I would like to avoid, however, is the courts having to draw these lines if lawmakers are unable to find a path forward on them. At the end of the day, I am committed to working with my colleagues, on both sides of the aisle, to reach a consensus on this issue and pass a fair map that represents all Missourians.
Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at senate.mo.gov/Bernskoetter.