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4/11/11Posted Monday, April 11, 2011, at 10:39 AM
Many of us in the 163rd District enjoy hunting and fishing. We participate as a family and enjoy eating the bounty of the hunt. Whether it is the first time our father taught us how to bait a hook or the first time our grandpa taught us to shoot a rifle, we have fond memories of enjoying the great outdoors. And we continue to pass this on from generation to generation.
However, as we grow older, enjoying hunting and fishing becomes more difficult. Often, to get to the prime hunting or fishing spots, you have to drive or hike several miles into the woods. That is what makes the federal government's Travel Management Rule so difficult to accept.
Before the Travel Management Rule took effect in 2009, all roads in the Mark Twain National Forest were open to hunters, trappers, anglers and wildlife observers. Since its adoption, the Forest Service has made it difficult to enjoy this national treasure by closing roads to motorized vehicles. This has had an adverse effect on the elderly and physically challenged.
Last week, the House passed House Concurrent Resolution 34 (HCR 34), my legislation dealing with these road closures. HCR 34 urges the U.S. Forest Service to amend or rescind Travel Management Rule 36, CFR 212, Subpart B.
After becoming your state representative, I received several calls on this issue. One man had to quit hunting, something he had done since childhood, because he couldn't hike to the spot where he used to hunt.
I think the elderly and physically challenged deserve to enjoy this traditional activity that relates to our rural way of life. By passing HCR 34, we are sending a clear message to the U.S. Forest Service that we want the roads in Mark Twain open to our most vulnerable citizens.
This is also a problem in our state parks and conservation areas. We have spoken with the Department of Conservation about the road closings in these areas. The Department of Conservation told us that the elderly and physically challenged can gain access to the roads in these areas by speaking with a park ranger.
The House also passed HB 193 last week. HB 193 redraws our congressional districts. Every decade, our country conducts the census to determine our population. After this is conducted, we have to redraw the districts to accommodate any shifts in where Missourians live.
This changes our congressional delegations. Unfortunately, Missouri didn't grow fast enough to maintain our nine congressional districts. We literally missed maintaining our nine seats by 15,000 people. Since we are losing a seat, we had to make the tough choice of determining who would literally lose their seat.
Part of this process included holding hearings across the state. Citizens were invited to testify before the House Redistricting Committee about how they would like to be represented in the new districts, where they should be included and how the districts should look on the map.
The committee took this valuable input into consideration and drew a map that we think is both fair and representative.
The eighth congressional district, currently represented by JoAnn Emerson, had to expand. Our map expands the district by including Ste. Genevieve, Crawford and part of Jefferson counties. The House map keeps the center of our district in Southeast Missouri.
I would like to address some of the concerns we have received regarding the rural nature of the redrawn eighth district. The fundamental rural makeup of the district doesn't change. 30 percent of the added population comes from Crawford and Ste. Genevieve counties, which are very similar to our current district.
Furthermore, 42,000 of the people we add are in southern Jefferson County, currently represented by State Senator Kevin Engler R-Farmington. This part of Jefferson County is rural and has the same common sense values as the rest of the district. Historically, this proposed district is 92 percent rural.
The map is a fair way to make the adjustments required due to the loss of a congressional seat. Every district's population increase significantly, but we meet the requirements of the Missouri Constitution and split only eight counties into different Congressional districts.
For a look at our proposed map, you can visit: http://monewshorizonblog.org/wpcontent/
As always, it is an honor to serve you in the Missouri House. If you would like to discuss any issue, please call 573-751-3629. You can also email me at Kent.Hampton@house.mo.gov. I look forward to hearing from you.