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Some points for Pogemiller

Posted at 2:17 PM on April 15, 2008 by Michael Marchio

One of the aspects of the MFL that sometimes surprises participants is how lawmakers who wield a lot of power at the Capitol and command headlines rarely are the ones who dominate the power rankings. This is especially true of the leadership.

Let's take a look at how they're doing.

In the Senate, Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller has 28 points, and Minority Leader David Senjem has 46.

In the House, Speaker Kelliher has 43 points, Minority Leader Marty Seifert has 68, although 60 is from his speeches during floor-a-paloozas, and Majority Leader Tony Sertich has 97.

All together, they have 282 points, or as Sen. Ann Rest refers to it, a Monday.

Clearly, we know that the work that these members do is probably not best measured by how many bills they push through the Legislature, as they've got an entire caucus to manage. Which makes SF2211, bill sponsored by Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, noteworthy. The bill would alter the way that congressional and state legislative districts are drawn.

Right now, the Legislature is responsible coming up with its own proposal for redrawing the lines after each census. Because districts need to have approximately the same population within them, and different parts of the state grow (or shrink) at different rates, some incumbent lawmakers inevitably end up running against each other. If they can't agree on a plan, then it heads to a court to decide.

Under the new proposal, a panel of retired appellate or district court judges with no history of political endorsements would come up with a plan. One provision in the bill calls for districts to be drawn more competitively.

The redistricting committee would then present its plans to the Legislature, which would vote to approve or send them back, but not to modify it. If they vote to reject it, the commission would have two more chances to draw up a map. If the Legislature rejects the second proposal too, then they could modify the third one or failing that, it would go back to the courts where it has been decided the last four times redistricting has been necessary.

This one could be more consequential than most, as Minnesota's population isn't growing as fast as other states, and could lose a congressional seat. How they'd rearrange that could provoke a Legislative street fight. It seems like Sen. Pogemiller's bill could defuse some of that by taking redistricting, at least in part, out of lawmakers hands.

The plan has some high-profile backers, with former governors Al Quie and Arne Carlson, former Senate Majority Leader Roger Moe and Vice President Walter Mondale supporting it.

It passed the Senate Rules and Administration Committee today, and now awaits a vote on the Senate floor..

If you've got some time to kill, you should check out something our MFL founder, and current NewsCut scribe Bob Collins pointed out a few years ago in Polinaut, called the "Redistricting Game." It lets you manipulate districts for partisan gain, not that politicians ever do that.