Drawing Battle Lines
All eyes at the Capitol this week were on the Senate Select Committee on Redistricting, the group of senators charged with vetting proposed changes to Missouri’s eight congressional districts. As a member of this committee, I have been heavily involved in this once-a-decade task and consider it to be of utmost importance. Not only do these congressional district maps determine who represents you in Washington, D.C., but they also could have profound impact on Missouri’s influence in Congress.
I have serious concerns about the proposed congressional district map sent over from the House of Representatives. For one, I believe the boundaries they drew will result in an unnecessary 5-to-3 partisan balance in Missouri’s congressional delegation. I don’t believe that’s good enough. Given what I believe is a strengthening of conservative attitudes and support among Missouri voters, I think we could and should create a 7-to-1 map, and actually increase the number of conservative representatives Missouri sends to Washington. This is vitally important given the close partisan margins in Congress. The decisions we make in the next week could actually help shift the balance of power in Congress and potentially result in the speaker’s gavel passing to someone more in keeping with Missourians’ conservative ideals. For this reason, I joined several of my colleagues in strenuously arguing for a 7-1 map, both in our committee hearing and on the floor of the Senate.
A separate issue I have with the House redistricting map is that Missouri’s two major military installations may no longer be represented by one member of Congress. Historically, having both Whiteman Air Force Base and Fort Leonard Wood located within the 4th Congressional District gave Missouri tremendous clout, practically assuring our state a seat on the U.S. House of Representatives Armed Services Committee and a strong voice when military budget decisions were being made. I am greatly concerned that the new map being considered sacrifices those advantages.
Negotiations are still underway on the redistricting map, but I’m not backing down from this battle. I am continuing to push for changes in the map, and I hope to have more information to share next week.
In other committee action, the Economic Development Committee, which I chair, met to take testimony on a couple of Senate bills. During that meeting we also voted to send my Senate Bill 732 onto the full Senate for its consideration. This legislation would reestablish incentives for television and film production companies that bring work to Missouri. These projects generate tremendous economic boosts for local communities, and I believe it’s time we stop ceding this money to other states that offer production incentives. I’m tired of seeing television shows like “Ozark” filmed in other states, despite being based in Missouri.
Amidst all the activity surrounding redistricting, I was happy to make time to meet with several visitors from our community. Johnson County Clerk Diane Thompson and Livingston County Clerk Sherry Parks stopped by my office to discuss election integrity issues. A group representing the Missouri Soybean Association also stopped by to discuss biodiesel legislation, including my Senate Bill 805, which would establish tax credits for biodiesel production and use. Among that delegation were two soybean producers from the 21st District: Garrett Riekof of Lafayette County and Nathan White of Ray County.
Also visiting the Capitol this week were Jill Purvis, director of Warrensburg Main Street Connection, Mike Diamond, director of Fayette Main Street Connection, and Pam Jarding, director of Chillicothe Main Street Connection. Each of these groups is heavily involved in empowering community revitalization by celebrating, supporting and sustaining historic commercial districts in both rural and urban settings. It was great to get updates on all that’s happening in these communities. Great work, guys!
I especially enjoyed visiting with a group of military veterans from Warrensburg as they advocated for the Missouri Association of Veteran Organizations’ legislative priorities for 2022. I met with Pete Zwally, the Warrensburg American Legion commander, and Warrensburg VFW Commander Howard Good, along with Bill Gullickson and Steve Del Vecchio, both members of the Warrensburg VFW. It’s always great to talk with fellow veterans. I appreciate their service and am always eager to help any way I can.
As always, I appreciate hearing your comments, opinions and concerns. Please feel free to contact me in Jefferson City at (573) 751-4302. You may also email me at email@example.com.