How Gerrymandering Hurts the Environment in Missouri

John Hickey, Chapter Director of the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club will call our studio to discuss negative effects of gerrymandering with our live guest Kevin Grooms of the Thomas Hart Benton Kansas City Missouri Sierra Club group. Their research has shown Missouri voters are relatively split evenly by partisanship, half are Republican, half are Democrats and they vote that way.

The Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club has analyzed voting in the past six general elections (2008-2018) and found that Missouri voters cast their votes evenly by party for Governor or State Auditor. However, in the same six elections, the State House of Representatives races show very different voting outcomes; 67% of elected state representatives were Republicans, whereas only 33% of elected representatives were Democrats.  With Missouri voters about evenly split, fair house district maps would have generated a roughly equal split of the State House seats by party. The skewed results demonstrate that politicians have drawn district lines to subvert voters’ intentions.

The Sierra Club’s interest is not to promote any particular political party, but instead to protect public lands, reduce air and water pollution, and promote clean energy. However, during the time frame of this report, Republican State Representatives have chosen to vote consistently anti-environment. In examining 8,527 votes over the past 11 years, Republican House members have a 10% pro-environment voting record while Democrats have an 85% pro-environment voting record. Since partisan gerrymandering in Missouri disproportionately advantages Republicans, gerrymandering also negatively impacts environmental policy in Missouri. During the same time period, two statewide environmental ballot measures received overwhelming support at the polls, proving Missourians care about environmental policies. Prop C, creating renewable energy standards for electric utilities passed in 2008 with 66% support. In 2016, voters approved Amendment 1, the Parks, Soil, and Water sales tax, with 80% support.

Our state representatives should respect the pro-environmental majority of Missourians, but by using gerrymandered voting district lines, our pro-environment majority is being disenfranchised.

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