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House approves redistricting plan

May 08, 2001
By: Matt Williams, Jennifer Ginsberg and Ben Paynter
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - All of Boone County would remain in U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof's ninth district under a plan given first-round approval Tuesday in the state House.

The change came after legislators objected to an earlier House proposal to split the city of Ashland between the districts of Hulshof, a Republican, and Democrat Ike Skelton.

On the same day, the Senate began debate on a GOP plan that also keeps all of Boone County in the ninth district.

In a House debate that lasted about three hours, Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he was happy that Ashland was not divided and that the entire county was back in the ninth district. But Republicans said they were upset with what they said was a highly partisan plan that incorpriates the compromise reached by Democratic Congressmen Dick Gephardt and Lacy Clay for dividing up the St. Louis area.

House Republicans complained they did not have enough time or the staff resources to offer amendments to the plan.

"Of all the things we have spent time on, I certainly believed redististricting deserved more than two hours," said Minority Floor Leader Catherine Hanaway, R-St. Louis County. "Our members deserved the ability to fully participate in the process and the net result is a map that is partisan."

Meanwhile in the Senate, a plan was debated to give all of St. Louis City to Rep. Lacy Clay's first district, pushing House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt's district south into more hostile political territory.

Columbia Sen. Ken Jacob called the plan approved by the Republican controlled redistricting committee a "blueprint for disaster."

The Senate's majority floor leader said he planned to resume chamber debate on the measure again later this week. If the House and Senate can reach agreement on a district map, it would require the governor's signature to take effect.

In other legislative action Tuesday:

* Senators approved $24.8 million in tobacco settlement funds for sciences research Thursday, much of which could go toward MU.

The provision, part of a $501 million health care plan, also included $216 million in one-time money to cover prescription drug tax credits.

The measure would allocate $5 million to University Health Care operations for uncompensated care and give $3.4 million to the MU telemedicine program, a program helping urban doctors maintain contact with rural patients.

The proposal must gain final approval in the House before it is sent to the governor.

* The Senate passed a provision to make restaurant and bar owners legally responsible for injuries caused by patrons intoxicated beyond the legal limit, but only under limited circumstances.

A bar owner would be responsible if it is "obvious to a reasonably prudent person under the same or similar circumstances."

Lauren Shepherd contributed to this report.