House GOP shifts redistricting into the (too) fast lane

Last night, Rep. Sarah Anderson released the House GOP redistricting plan.  As expected, Carver County’s population growth means it will be split among three State House districts instead of two today.  Most of the county would be located in Senate District 44 under the plan, which would also include eastern McLeod County (Glencoe and Lester Prairie).  Northern Chanhassen and Victoria would be part of Senate District 45.  SD 45 would also include Eden Prairie and parts of Minnetonka.

This is the first volley in what is expected to be a long back-and-forth between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Governor Mark Dayton.   The Senate Redistricting Committee will release its own plan at some point, and the Governor will release a plan as well.  And if no agreement can be reached among the parties, the courts will end up drawing the lines — a process that could take until February of 2012.  In 2000, the courts drew the lines significantly differently than any of the three plans presented to it — the Governor Ventura plan, the Senate Democratic plan, or the House Republican plan.

The problem with the Anderson proposal isn’t so much the proposal itself (although a cursory look at the map clearly indicates it was drawn to favor Republicans), but rather how it is being handled.  After releasing the plan last night, Rep. Anderson intends to move the bill through committee tonight, opening the door for a full vote in the House potentially as early as this week.  This leaves little time for public analysis of the plan before tonight’s hearing.  This is not the way we should be dealing with an important topic such as redistricting. 

Even though this plan is likely dead on arrival in terms of it actually being implemented (as all of the legislative redistricting plans were in 2000), there’s no reason not to carry out the process to the standards that Minnesotans should expect.  The Legislature and public should get ample opportunity to analyze and comment on the plan before it gets moved through committee.

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