Gov. Mark Dayton sent a letter Monday to Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, head of the House redistricting committee, wondering why the bill outlining the guiding principles for the process of redrawing political district lines hasn’t hit his desk yet. Dayton noted that the current bills being offered by the GOP are lacking in terms of ensuring minority representation and other principles that have traditionally been a part of the process. In 2001, he reminded, those bills had already been passed by May 1.
“By this time ten years ago, the Senate had already passed a resolution adopting principles for legislative and congressional plans,” Dayton wrote to Anderson. “The House passed its version on May 1, 2001. With only four weeks remaining in this legislative session, little time remains for adopting principles and developing a bipartisan plan this year.”
Dayton says that the GOP bills on redistricting fall short of historical standards for the state. He wants any principles to “achieve the smallest deviation possible,” to provide “fair representation for racial and language minorities,” to avoid splitting towns and cities when possible, to preserve “communities of interest,” and to avoid creating districts specifically to help or defeat incumbents.
The GOP’s redistricting plan, HF1546 and HF1547, introduced by redistricting commission chair Anderson, contains only a few principles: maintaining compact districts, nesting to keep legislative House districts within Senate districts, and instructions on the numbering system and data to be used in redistricting.
DFLers have introduced their own redistricting principles, HF406, that contain those outlined by Dayton, including representation of minority groups, encouraging political competitiveness and preserving “communities of interest,” defined as “geographic areas where there are clearly recognizable similarities of social, political, cultural, ethnic, or economic interests, or that are linked by common transportation or communication.”
The DFL also wants to create a non-partisan redistricting commission made up of five retired judges that have not served as part of a political party and who are selected by legislative leadership.
Dayton’s letter is below.