Calling 2022 legislative session “particularly grueling,” Ashley Bland Manlove, chair of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus, said she is proud of its members and accomplishments.
“The Black Caucus member sat through countless hearings where the legislation or witnesses attacked those who look like ourselves and the people we love; particularly in education, elections, and healthcare,” she told The St. Louis American.
“I'm pleased that bills aimed at censoring history, changing the initiative petition process, and allowing guns in more public spaces were unsuccessful. A lot of this success is on the shoulders of Black Caucus Members.
The caucus was unable to stop the legislature passing an elections bill that requires a photo ID to vote.
It also allows Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, a Republican, to review the list of registered voters in any jurisdiction and electronic voting machines will be banned after 2024, except in cases where a voter with a disability cannot use a paper ballot.
It was not a total loss, according to Manlove. Two weeks are still allowed for “no-reason absentee voting.”
As reported by St. Louis Public Radio, some House members took umbrage with the effort, or lack thereof, of Senators in challenging the new voting requirements.
“This is a shameful day,” said Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis.
“Hopefully, we eventually have senators with a little bit more integrity, that’s going to stand up and fight.”
Senate Minority Floor Leader John Rizzo, D-Independence, said that he respected the opinion of his fellow Democrats but that it was difficult to fight what was a top priority for the Republicans.
State Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, speaks in a sparsely populated House chamber against a voter photo identification bill on Thursday.
“We didn’t vote for the bill,” he said. “We tried to do the best we could without getting something absolutely horrible shoved down our throat, which was a real possibility.”
Rep. LaKeySha Bosley, D-St. Louis, admonished her Republican colleagues for leaving the floor while Democrats spoke against the measure.
“We’re talking about gutting elections, we’re talking about democracy at its finest, the root of what our country itself was supposed to be built on, the exact foundation, and this chamber is empty,” she said.
“This bill is a major disenfranchisement movement,” said Rep. Joe Adams, D-University City.
“It is to deny people who have fought and denied for this right to vote. It’s an attempt to restrict their participation in the process.”
Jay Ozier, Saint Louis chapter of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists president, said in a statement it “condemns H.B.1878, another Voter Suppression bill approved by the Missouri [legislature.] This is another step by the right-wing Republicans to stomp on the democratic rights of the people.”
“Discriminatory measures target voters of color, sabotage elections and prevent Missourians from having their voices heard at the ballot box.
The legislature also passed a Congressional map that will preserve U.S. Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s hold on the 5th Congressional District in the Kansas City area.
Republican conservatives including state Sen. Bob Onder of St. Charles sought to chop up Cleaver’s district. Cleaver, Kansas City’s first Black mayor, has held the seat since 2005.
Every 10 years — after the release of new U.S. Census data — state lawmakers must redraw state and congressional lines to match population shifts. Missouri was one of four states without a finalized congressional map.