by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports
The 2021 Idaho Commission for Reapportionment met for the first time this week, beginning the 90-day process of creating new legislative and congressional district maps that align with 2020 census data. On Thursday, the committee laid out a tentative schedule for public hearings around the state, at which they will hear concerns about legislative and congressional representation from Idahoans in their communities.
The commission is planning to hold a series of regional hearings to gather public input:
- The week of September 13th in the Treasure Valley: Caldwell, Nampa, Boise, Meridian, and Eagle
- The week of September 20th in North Idaho: Sandpoint, Coeur d’Alene, the Coeur d’Alene Reservation, Moscow, and Lewiston
- The week of September 27th in the Magic Valley: Twin Falls, Hailey and potentially Challis, Burley, or Mountain Home
- The week of October 4th in Eastern Idaho: Idaho Falls, Pocatello, Rexburg, and Fort Hall
- The week of October 11th for additional remote testimony
Specifics for those meetings, including times and places, have not yet been worked out. Idaho Reports will continue to follow the commission as more details are made available.
The commission is also accepting written testimony through by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and through a form on their website. Physical mail addressed to the commission can be sent to P.O. Box 83720, Boise, ID 83720. Similar to legislative committees, written testimony to the redistricting commission is a public record and must include:
- First and last name
- Email, physical address and mailing address (if different than physical address)
- Phone number
- Organization you are representing (if any)
Members of the public are also invited to use a free web version of the commission’s mapping software, which is available at redistricting.idaho.gov through the “Draw Your Own Map” link in the maps tab. Citizens are able to submit their maps for consideration by the commission.
LAYING THE GROUNDWORK
The commission consists of three appointees from each of the two major political parties. Former state senator Bart Davis and former state representatives Eric Redman and Thomas Daley were appointed by Republicans. Nels Mitchell, Amber Pence, and former state senator Dan Schmidt were appointed by Democrats. Davis and Schmidt serve as co-chairs of the commission.
Davis said Thursday he hopes to beat the 90-day deadline and have a map submitted in October.
During the first meeting on Wednesday, Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane walked the commission through constitutional and statutory requirements for the new maps, plus precedent from court rulings on past maps. He emphasized the most important factors the commission must consider: district populations cannot vary more than 10 percent, and county divisions must be kept to a minimum.
In addition to organizational business, commissioners heard a historical overview of the redistricting process from Boise State University professor emeritus Dr. Gary Moncrief and advice from past commissioners Randy Hansen and Ron Beitelspacher.
“Who this is all about is not these legislators who are sitting up there in those leather chairs. Who this is all about are those taxpayers and those citizens out there,” Beitelspacher said. “It’s those people who are there today and are gonna be there ten years from now that you want to worry about.”
Earlier this week, Clark Corbin of the Idaho Capital Sun joined Idaho Reports to discuss the redistricting process and what he’ll be watching for in coming weeks. The Idaho Reports Podcast is available on all major podcast players.