With complaints of too little time to review the maps and not enough time for public input, the House Redistricting Committee approved the new House and Senate district boundaries that will be used for the first time in the 2012 elections and for the next 10 years.
“Our goal was a fair process that recognizes the population shifts,” said Committee Chairwoman Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth).
It wasn’t long into the evening meeting, with more than 30 testifiers, when Anderson’s response to the Mankato City Administrator Pat Hentges’ characterization that the city’s proposed split among districts appears to be along gerrymandered lines, led to her to gavel him out of order.
Rep. Karen Clark (DFL-Mpls) asked for mutual respect “We have people who have come distance. I suggest that we hear them out.”
The redistricting plan laid out in HF1425, sponsored by Anderson, keeps the number of House and Senate districts the same at 134 and 67 respectively. The ideal population in each House district would be 39,582 and 79,163 for the Senate. Current Senate districts call for a population of 73,425 and for the House, 36,713.
It appears the plan would pit 20 House incumbents against each other in the next election.
The bill was passed as amended and sent to the House Rules and Legislative Administration Committee. Its companion, SF1248, sponsored by Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina) has been referred to the Senate Rules and Administration Committee.
Testifiers raised concerns about consideration of cities that would be divided into two or more districts.
Anderson said the plan would split 42 cities versus the current 46.
Will Rossbach, Maplewood mayor, said his city is currently contained in two House districts, and would be divided into three, if the plan is approved. “You are taking us away from our partners, that we have joint powers agreements with. It is not a situation that will make it easier for us.”
Before voting on the bill, Rep. Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) called for members to use committee time to review data to make sure the map adheres to principles earlier adopted and not to political talking points.
“The process was very open,” he said. “I just want to say, as a new member, I’m very impressed with the process we have gone through.”
Rep. Paul Marquart (DFL-Dilworth) called for more review time. “For the first time in 100 years, we could send a message to the citizens and come up with a plan that is bipartisan and signed by the governor.”