SEDALIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Thursday said he won’t call lawmakers back to work this year to redraw the state’s congressional districts, setting up a compressed timeline for candidates running for the U.S. House in 2022.
Parson told reporters gathered at the Missouri State Fair that he doesn’t plan on calling a special legislative session this year. Some lawmakers involved in the redistricting process had expected he would do so.
“I don’t anticipate a special session at all for the remainder of the year unless we had to do that,” said Parson, a Republican.
That means state lawmakers won’t be able to debate and vote on new boundaries for Missouri’s eight U.S. House districts until they return to the Capitol in January for their annual session.
Candidates can begin filing for office on Feb. 22. But potential candidates often prefer to know the new district lines well in advance, so they have time to decide whether to run and to begin organizing their campaigns.
State Rep. Dan Shaul, who is chairman of the chamber’s redistricting committee, said he was disappointed by the governor’s decision but plans to hold interim committee meetings nonetheless with the goal of having a proposed map ready in January.
“I would like to do it in a special session so our total focus is committed to the proper drawing of maps for the state of Missouri,” said Shaul, a Republican from Imperial. “If we do it in regular session, our focus will not be there — it will be divided.”
All states must redraw their U.S. House and state legislative districts based on 2020 census data, which was released last week. In Missouri, state lawmakers create congressional districts. Citizen commissions draw state legislative districts.