Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Too little, too late

First redistricting commissionís plan has no authority


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

The first Idaho Commission for Reapportionment decided on legislative and congressional district lines on Friday. However, this agreement came three weeks too late, as the commission was disbanded at the beginning of this month and the Idaho Supreme Court has announced that a new commission must be convened.

"These people don't exist anymore," said Rep. Wendy Jaquet, D-Ketchum, in response to the news that the first commission had come up with bipartisan plans. "That's really outside of their purview."

After 92 days of work, the first commission missed its Sept. 6 deadline, and a decision on how to draw up district boundaries was thrown to the Idaho Supreme Court.

The court ruled on Sept. 9 that a new commission needed to be reconvened, due to an Idaho law modified in 2009 that forbids previous commissioners from serving again.

It did not, however, prevent the former commissioners from meeting again and hashing out a map that would leave legislative District 25—Blaine, Lincoln, Camas and Gooding counties—untouched. Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa said the legislative plan, known as L83, has no legal standing.

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"There's not a valid plan unless a legally constituted commission adopts the plan," Ysursa told The Spokesman-Review.

As a result, District 25 legislators reacted to the former commission's move with scorn, despite the fact that the plan would actually keep the district intact, as they had stated was their preference earlier this year.

"The map is pretty good for our district, but that's not the point," Jaquet said. "The point was that these six people were meant to come up with a plan within 90 days. If they wanted to save face, they should have figured it out on day 88."

"I'm not sure this kind of posturing is valid or appropriate," added Sen. Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum. "I don't know how they can unilaterally do this."

The second commission is scheduled to meet today, Sept. 28, and begin the process of hammering out a new set of district boundaries.

State code requires district lines to be redrawn every 10 years in accordance with the most recent census data, and the U.S. Constitution requires those districts to have approximately equal populations.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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