Redistricting Debate

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JEFFERSON CITY -- One minute.

That's how long lawmakers met Thursday night in a conference committee on redrawing the state's congressional districts. The process, which has seen numerous delays, threatens to drag out for months and could impact the 2012 races.

After the brief meeting, the five senators and five representatives split because both sides brought different district maps to the table. The delay is the latest of many over the past two weeks, as lawmakers continue to disagree over the maps. The members were supposed to reconvene around 8 p.m., but as of midnight, no deal had been struck.

The major disagreements continue over the communities surrounding St. Louis, although Camden, Audrian and Randolph counties are also unsettled.

The conferees must agree to one map Thursday night so both chambers can vote on the new plan Friday. That's the deadline if the lawmakers want to override a potential veto from Gov. Jay Nixon during the regular session. Nixon, a Democrat, is thought to be considering a veto because the Republican-dominated legislature has eliminated a Democratic district in St. Louis.

Should lawmakers not agree on a map by Friday, they can still pass the legislation in the remaining three weeks of the legislative session. But if Nixon does veto the agreed-upon map, legislators would have to wait until a veto session this fall to override the governor. Waiting that long has some worried that the courts would get involved, impacting candidates who want to file and run in the 2012 election.

The process is necessary because Missouri is losing a congressional district. The Show-Me State's population didn't grow as much as other states in the past decade.