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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A House redistricting committee approved a new congressional map only slightly different from the original one proposed by Republican leaders late last year.

The new map, approved in an 8-3 vote Wednesday morning by the Special Committee on Redistricting, puts Ray County under the 6th congressional district instead of splitting it between two.

Several representatives from Richmond, the county seat, testified in opposition to the split on Monday, and Rep. Peggy McGaugh, their state representative, was instrumental in lobbying the committee to put the city and county under just one congressional district.

Rep. Peggy McGaugh (HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS/TIM BOMMEL)

“The Richmond/Ray County constituents that testified before the redistricting committee on Monday are very happy that their voices were heard and their request for a fair boundary line that did not split the city of Richmond between two congressional districts that was offered by Rep. J. Eggleston as an amendment unanimously passed in committee,” McGaugh told The Missouri Times.

“As we worked through this process of changing these congressional maps, it reminded me of a saying from a well-known anthropologist, Margaret Mead: ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world. It is the only thing that ever has,'” she added.

McGaugh also noted she was pleased to see the new map use the Missouri River as a natural boundary that kept Ray, Carroll, and Chariton counties in the same congressional district. Those counties have experienced similar issues with flooding that required federal disaster assistance and being in the same congressional district would make the process easier.

“We have been lucky to have great congressional members and senators who take good care of our interests, and staying together is a great benefit,” she said.

Reps. Dan Shaul and Hannah Kelly, the chairman and vice-chair of the committee respectively, praised the passage of the map Wednesday afternoon.

“The Census data allowed us the opportunity to better understand Missouri’s population, and we used that information in combination with the testimony shared in committee to create a map that accurately reflects our state and our congressional districts,” Shaul said in a statement.

“Our goal has been to allow all state representatives, and Missourians from all parts of the state, to make their voices heard on this bill before we move forward,” Kelly said. “I’m confident we have a bill that fairly and accurately represents our districts and that can receive strong support on the House floor.”

HB 2117 is scheduled to be heard in the House Rules – Administrative Oversight Committee Thursday afternoon.

The new map, approved in an 8-3 vote by the Special Committee on Redistricting, put Ray County under the 6th congressional district instead of splitting it between two.

But the map doesn’t have unanimous support even among Republicans yet.

Nine Republicans from both chambers signed a letter decrying the split of St. Charles County between the 1st and 2nd congressional districts.

“Currently, the fastest-growing county within our great state in terms of population and economic development is St. Charles County,” the letter said. “Moreover, during the last two years, St. Charles County has been a refuge for individuals and businesses that have been adversely impacted by the tyrannical edicts of activist local officials elsewhere.”

The letter was signed by Sens. Bill Eigel and Bob Onder as well as Reps. Phil Christofanelli, Ron Hicks, Tony Lovasco, Adam Schnelting, Adam Schwadron, Richard West, and John Wiemann.

Other GOP lawmakers and representatives had also hoped to see a map that leaned 7-1 in favor of Republicans. The map is considered to be 6-2 in favor of Republicans as it is now.

“We should not appease Democrat special interests aligned with [President Joe Biden] and give away seats in Congress,” Eigel said on social media last week.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is the editor of The Missouri Times. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.

Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.

She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.

Contact Kaitlyn at kaitlyn@themissouritimes.com.

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