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Senate filibuster blocks redistricting plan

May 09, 2001
By: Maggie Rotermund, Jennifer Ginsberg and Matt Williams
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 586

JEFFERSON CITY - Senate Democrats -- including Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia -- launched a filibuster Wednesday to block GOP efforts to strip Democratic St. Louis City from the congressional district of U.S. Rep. Dick Gephardt.

The filibuster ended when the plan's sponsor agreed to put off further debate -- at least for the day. Later in the other chamber, the House passed their map by a near party-line vote.

The action came as both Democratic and Republican legislators called each other's proposals "trash."

The plan before the Senate would give all of St. Louis City to U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay's district, pushing U.S. House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt's district south into more hostile political territory.

Much of the opposition to the bill stems from that decision, which Democrats say unfairly jeopardizes Gephardt's chances for reelection.

"I am astounded to hear people say this isn't political." said Sen. John Schneider, D-St. Louis County. "This is absolutely political and nothing else."

He says that until all the incumbents are protected, the bill will not pass the Senate.

Gov. Bob Holden, who can veto a final map, said he is disappointed with the Senate's plan.

"I think this would be a real detriment to all the people in St. Louis, because he has been a strong advocate for St. Louis interest," said Holden, who once worked as an aid in Gephardt's office. "To think that the congressman no longer represented his home, I don't think is good for the city of St. Louis."

In addition, Sen. Ted House, D-St. Charles, questioned the redistricting committee's plan to split his county.

"St. Charles County is split and divided--our vote has been diluted," House said. "We are a minority in both districts."

But Eric Feltner, spokesman for U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof-R, said the congressman wanted St. Charles to stay split between the second and ninth districts.

"St. Charles has been in the ninth district for decades. West St. Charles has more in common with Warren and Franklin counties then with east St. Charles," Feltner said.

Meanwhile, the House passed its redistricting map despite Republican opposition.

"In my opinion, this bill is pure political partisan trash," said Rep. Mark Wright, R-Springfield. "It's designed to do one thing, and one thing only. That's to elect more Democrats in this state."

The sponsor of the proposal, Rep. Craig Hosmer, D-Springfield, denies those accusations.

"This map is not political gerrymandering," Hosmer said. "This map is fair."

He instead said it is the Senate map that is unfair.

"If you're looking for a definition of political gerrymandering, look at the Senate map," Hosmer said.

Lawmakers have until next February to agree on a redistricting plan.