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Missouri Senate District Fight Appears Over

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (CN) - The saga of shifting lines on Missouri's new state Senate district map appears to be over.

A bipartisan committee approved the map by 10-0 vote this week.

Doug Harpool, chairman of the state Senate redistricting commission, told The Associated Press that the changes should not significantly affect the partisan characteristics of the state's 34 districts.

Several boundaries in the St. Louis and Jackson County areas were tweaked. St. Clair County was moved to a different western Missouri seat and Chariton County moved from a west-central district to one that stretches to the state's northeastern corner.

The approval culminated a tumultuous process to draw a new map, which must reflect population shifts from the 2010 Census.

Last year, a different bipartisan committee failed to draw a new map, so a special panel of appellate judges was chosen to handle the task.

But in January, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected the map that panel drew and ordered the entire process to start over.

The new map had detractors, including a group that filed a lawsuit in Federal Court, claiming the new map violated federal equal protection rights and favors urban voters over rural voters. But that group dropped its lawsuit Tuesday after some final tweaks were made to the map.

Harpool told the AP he is confident the map will stand up to any challenges. He said that further reductions in population differences between districts would have required crossing county lines, which the panel did not want to do.

The Missouri Constitution calls for counties to be generally kept within one district.

The debate over the state Senate boundaries continued well after the period for candidate filing began on Feb. 28. The filing period ends on March 27.

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