As a member of Springfield City Council, it is my job to ensure each member of our community has their voice heard and represented. I expect other elected officials to do the same, listening to voters when they are making decisions – and to respect their votes once they have done so. This is why I am extremely troubled about Amendment 3, found on the Nov. 3 ballot.
Just two years ago, voters overwhelmingly passed rules for fair maps in our state with the measure called Clean Missouri. But before the new rules could even be implemented, some elected officials and lobbyists started working to undermine the voters’ will and replace Clean Missouri’s reforms with some of the most extreme gerrymandering in the United States.
Amendment 3 could make Missouri the only state in the union to leave out children from district maps. If it passed, there would no longer be a rule requiring every resident to be counted when determining legislative districts. In other words, Amendment 3 would count only eligible Missourians of voting age for redistricting, and any child under 18 years of age would not be represented.
This could mean serious changes in funding for local communities, schools and other entities. In fact, the last line in the ballot language warns, “Individual local governmental entities expect significant decreased revenues of a total unknown amount.” As a City Council member and a longtime certified public accountant, this causes me great concern.
Amendment 3 was opposed in the General Assembly by a bipartisan group of Springfield lawmakers. Sen. Lincoln Hough, Rep. Crystal Quade and Rep. Steve Helms all voted against the resolution that became Amendment 3, citing their strong belief in allowing the will of Missouri voters to stand.
Amendment 3 has been troubled since the start. The ballot language was called “misleading” and “false” by two courts of law this summer – the Cole County Circuit Court and the Western District Court of Appeals – and judges rewrote parts of it to help voters understand the real proposal. Bipartisan leaders and national experts expressed their opposition. A top Republican, Rep. Rocky Miller, chair of the House rules committee, warned that the measure contained errors and that “corrections need to be made.” A flawed amendment like this has no business in our state Constitution.
But backers of the proposal believe they can fool voters. The first two lines of the ballot issue – campaign contribution limits and gifts from lobbyists – were already part of Clean Missouri two years ago. By putting first in the ballot language what are minor reforms, they hope to distract Missourians from the real goal: protecting incumbent politicians.
Missouri voters want elected officials who earn their seat, work for our communities and listen to our concerns. But gerrymandered maps allow politicians to take the easy way out. They don’t have to really listen to the voters back home because their districts are super safe, drawn in a way that ensures little to no competition. They know if they rig the maps they’ll be a shoe-in each time an election rolls around.
Let’s keep the Clean Missouri reforms we passed in 2018. Please vote no on Amendment 3.
Andrew Lear is a member of Springfield City Council and a retired partner of accounting firm BKD LLP. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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