Judicial Redistricting Commission holds Friday hearing on Missouri Senate maps • Missouri Independent

A panel of appellate judges working to draw 34 districts for the Missouri Senate will hold a public hearing Friday in Jefferson City.

the Six-member Judicial Redistricting Commission will testify from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Truman State Office Building. The commission has until mid-April to submit a map to the secretary of state’s office.

Case opened on Tuesday for the 17 even districts on this year’s ballot. Wednesday at midday, 31 candidates filed without assurance that they will live in the constituency where they are running, or even that the constituency number will be the same.

Friday’s hearing is the new time for a February 17 hearing canceled due to winter weather conditions.

The Missouri Supreme Court appointed the six justices on Jan. 11 under a constitutional provision that went into effect when the Senate’s bipartisan Citizens’ Independent Commission failed to agree on a plan.

The panel tries to draw 34 population-balanced districts that both protect minority representation rights and hold communities of interest together. Full districts should be drawn within county boundaries equal to or greater than the ideal population of 181,026 and any remainder after full district design is associated with the territory of adjacent counties.

In the past, counties that did not have enough population for a full district had to be included in their entirety in a Senate district. Provisions passed in a 2020 constitutional amendment allow these small population counties to be divided, but not more than once, to achieve balance.

In the past, when judicial commissions assumed the task of drawing legislative constituencies, the committees operated mostly in secret. The Missouri Constitution requires the panel to have a hearing after preparing a draft map, but so far no plan has been posted online.

In addition to in-person testimony, the Judiciary Committee is take written comments online.

For Friday’s hearing, the commission asks those who testify to limit their comments to 10 minutes. Written materials and maps can be submitted in advance through the online feedback portal.

The commission is chaired by Judge Cynthia Martin of the Western District Court of Appeals, with Judge Gary Lynch of the Southern District Court of Appeals as co-chair. The other members are Judges Thomas A. Chapman of the Western District, Judge Michael Gardner and Angela Quigless of the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District, and Judge Mary Sheffield of the Southern District.

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