JEFFERSON CITY - Lawmakers on the house committee to draw new congressional boundary lines in the state failed to vote on the plan Thursday afternoon, planning to try again next week. The plan, released on Wednesday, drew lines for eight congressional districts in the state. That new number is lower than the nine that exist now, thanks to Missouri census numbers that did not grow at a fast enough pace to maintain nine districts.
The representatives and officials who testified at Thursday's meeting were more concerned about the split between urban and rural districts than the split between Democratic and Republican districts.
Cole County Commissioner Marc Ellinger said that rural communities such as Jefferson City have very little in common with urban areas.
House Redistricting Committee chairman John Diehl acknolwedged the issue, but said that it is very hard to draw a map that will please everyone.
Despite Thursday's delay with the house plan, local representatives put their trust in the legislative process.
Paul Sloca, press secretary for Republican congressman Blaine Luetkemeyer, said that once the bill passes the house committee, it will then go to the senate for a vote, allowing that body to create another proposal if it is dissatisfied with the house's map.
Republican representative Stanley Cox, vice chairman of the House Redistricting Committee, said several factors went into the formation of their proposal, including legal requirements keeping the new districts completely connected and compact, the wishes of minority-heavy districts to keep their current makeup, and attempts to not divide counties between districts.
Cox said ensuring citizens' best interests is a major concern, considered when the committee created its bill. No matter what map is approved, Cox said the redistricting will not satisfy everyone.
Randolph and Morgan Counties are two of the eight counties that were to be divided under the plan defeated Thursday. This is one reason why Cox saw some central Missouri citizens unhappy with that plan.
The house and senate have a Friday, May 13 deadline to reach an agreement on the new congressional districts. If they do not reach a decision by then, Cox said a Missouri Supreme Court committee would step in to make the decision.
Despite the upcoming deadline, both Cox and Sloca believe the state's representatives will do what's best for Missourians.