Friday, October 14, 2011

Redistricting goes behind closed doors

Commission has Dec. 12 deadline


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

cThe second Idaho citizen Commission for Reapportionment has been working all week on drawing new legislative lines. Much of the work has been conducted in small groups outside the public eye.

The six-person bipartisan commission tasked with redrawing the state's electoral districts has been working in groups of three, which avoids violating the open meeting law, said Legislative Services Office support staff member Kristin Ford. The main benefit, she said, was that small groups allow the commissioners to work more efficiently.

"Small groups can be a lot less formal, and more conducive to progress," she said.

The groups are composed of members from both parties, she added, so both sides are represented in each discussion.

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Another main difference is that during the last redistricting commission's term, the two parties each presented a number of plans that were discussed at length before ultimately being voted down along party lines. Sometimes as many as five maps per day were rejected.

This time, things are different, Ford said.

"They have basically been working on one evolving map," she said. "They are constantly tinkering on just the one."

As a result, Ford said, the commission has been making "tons" of progress—even though not much of it has been presented for public scrutiny.

The commission must approve a plan by Dec. 12, but members have expressed confidence that this commission, in contrast to its predecessor, will meet its deadline.

"We could see a plan this week or next," Ford said.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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