First wave of Minnesota redistricting fights arrivesby Tom Scheck, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — On its face, the process of redistricting is complicated and difficult to understand. But it comes down to a simple concept: one person, one vote.
The Legislature and governor are tasked with designing political boundaries that ensure equal population and equal representation. In other words, no legislative district can have a significantly larger number of people than another legislative district.
Every 10 years, the boundaries have to be adjusted based on population figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau.
"You have to look where we had population loss and population growth and take those in consideration in putting together a map," said Republican Rep. Sarah Anderson, the chief author of the House Republican plan. She called it a "fair proposal" that ensures equal population and that the legislative boundaries don't split up cities or counties.
But because some areas are growing more slowly than others, some sitting lawmakers will be forced into the same districts. It gives them some choices -- to run against each other, retire or move. The House GOP plan combines 20 current districts in the House and six in the Senate.
Several of those pairings are in DFL strongholds in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Other pairings are in the northern and western Twin Cities suburbs and southwestern Minnesota.
The proposal also creates several open seats in fast-growing areas like Sherburne County, St. Michael and Burnsville. Anderson said the proposed map isn't designed to give Republicans an advantage, but she said more people moved into GOP districts.
"Republican-held districts, on average, grew by 4,800 versus districts that are held by Democrats. They grew by only 650."
Democrats argue that Gov. Dayton won't sign the plan because Republicans created the maps without DFL input. DFL House Minority Leader Paul Thissen also complained that Anderson released the details of the plan just 24 hours before the committee is scheduled to vote on it.
The committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday on the plan.
"They dropped the map on 6:30 on Monday and they're going to vote it out of committee on 6:30 on Tuesday. That's not nearly enough time for the public to weigh in on the boundary lines that are being drawn."
This is only the first phase of the House redistricting plan. Rep. Anderson won't say when she plans to release the new congressional district maps but said it would be before the legislative session ends on May 23. Republicans in the Minnesota Senate haven't released their plan yet. If Gov. Dayton and the Legislature can't reach agreement on a plan by February 21. 2012, of next year, the courts will have to step in and draw the new districts.
- Morning Edition, 05/03/2011, 8:25 a.m.