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Missouri legislators ring in 2022 with map drama, wage issue — and some lingering tensions

The Missouri House of Representatives breaks on Wednesday after the first day of the legislative session at the capitol in Jefferson City.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
The Missouri House of Representatives breaks on Wednesday after the first day of the legislative session at the Capitol in Jefferson City.

Missouri lawmakers returned to the Capitol last week as a new legislative session got underway. In the coming months the elected officials will vote on things like redistricting, Medicaid funding and pay rates for state employees.

St. Louis Public Radio’s Statehouse reporter Sarah Kellogg told St. Louis on the Air there are new challenges coming up for Republicans as lawmakers draw up a new congressional map for the state.

“There have been a series of resignations on the House Republican side, and they no longer have the majority that they need in order to pass an emergency clause attached to this map,” Kellogg said. “And that clause is needed. Because if it's not, the map will go into effect after the primary. So people will be voting for districts, and they theoretically won't know what they look like."

She said that emergency clause is the way Republicans could get the map they want.

“There has been a call from some Republicans to make the map 7-1, which would leave Democrats only one seat,” she said. “I think with this emergency clause needed, it's not going to happen.”

Sarah Kellogg discusses the Missouri legislature's plans for this session

Kellogg also said there’s been a lot of discussion about raising wages for state employees, which has bipartisan support.

“Democrats have already kind of thrown their support behind it. And a lot of Republicans, they're not disagreeing that Missouri state employees need to be paid more,” she said. “They agree with that, but they're trying to see how exactly it fits in the budget.”

The changes would consist of a 5.5% cost-of-living adjustment and a $15 hourly minimum wage for state workers.

Kellogg said that after redistricting and the budget are taken care of, Republicans will likely shift their focus to initiative petition reform. That effort would raise the bar for making petitions that would initiate a change to the state constitution and affect how out-of-state corporations can influence elections.

Kellogg noted that there are tensions in the state Senate — a dynamic that has lingered from last year and from the recent veto session.

“I joke, but it kind of reminds me of Festivus,” she said. “There's a lot of airing of grievances happening kind of consistently. And it's a question of whether or not the Senate leadership can rebuild those bridges.”

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Kayla Drake. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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