Redistricting commission takes first crack at redrawing maps

by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports

The Idaho redistricting commission held another series of meetings at the state capitol this week. The six-member bipartisan commission spent their time drafting example maps ahead of their statewide tour to gather public input on new legislative and congressional districts that will be in place for the next decade.

On Wednesday, the commission fleshed out a slightly more detailed schedule for public meetings in various parts of the state. Staff are still determining exact times and venues for many of the meetings.

“Our goal is to be accessible to the public and let them have an opportunity to show up,” commissioner Dan Schmidt said.

The commission plans to begin each public meeting with a review of population changes and the legal requirements they have to meet when drawing new maps. They also plan to present example maps for public consideration and feedback at the meetings.

Week of September 12Treasure Valley
Sept 15 at 1 p.m.Caldwell Public Library,
Dean E. Miller Community Room
Sept 15 at 7 p.m.Nampa City Hall,
City Council Chambers
Sept 16 at 1 p.m.Meridian City Hall,
City Council Chambers
Sept 16 at 7 p.m.Idaho State Capitol,
Lincoln Auditorium
Sept 17 at 1 p.m.Eagle City Hall,
City Council Chambers
Week of September 19North Idaho
Sept 22 at 1 p.m.Sandpoint City Hall,
City Council Chambers
Sept 22 at 7 p.m.Coeur d’Alene
Sept 23 at 1 p.m.Coeur d’Alene Reservation
Sept 23 at 7 p.m.Moscow City Hall,
City Council Chambers
Sept 24 at 1 p.m.Lewiston
Week of September 26Magic Valley
Sept 29 at 7 p.m.Hailey
Sept 30 at 7 p.m.Twin Falls
Oct 1 at 1 p.m.Burley
Week of October 3Eastern Idaho
Oct 6 at 1 p.m.Fort Hall
Oct 6 at 7 p.m.Pocatello
Oct 7 at 1 p.m.Rexburg
Oct 7 at 7 p.m.Idaho Falls
Week of October 10Remote Testimony

The commission broke into subcommittees Wednesday to tackle districts in regions of the state they are familiar with. Schmidt and Eric Redman drafted maps for the panhandle and north central Idaho. Bart Davis and Amber Pence worked on a map for eastern Idaho, while Nels Mitchell and Tom Dayley began adjusting Treasure Valley districts to balance that area’s rapid population growth.

The commission reconvened Thursday morning to compare their progress.

“This is gonna be as hard as people told us it was going to be,” Davis said.

The redistricting commission is constitutionally mandated to keep county divisions between legislative districts to a minimum. The current map contains seven split counties: Bonner, Kootenai, Canyon, Ada, Twin Falls, Bannock and Bonneville. 

Based on the panhandle’s uneven population growth and odd geography, the commission will likely have to split an additional county in the north central region of the state this time around.

Schmidt and Redman walked their fellow commissioners through two proposal maps, one of which divided Idaho County and another which divided Nez Perce County.

Commissioners said that breaking out into pairs allowed them to get more experience with the mapping program, and they emphasized that the draft maps are simply meant to spark discussion at the public meetings.

“I can now say with great confidence that when we go out with this plan, I don’t believe in this plan. But we hope that with everybody’s input we can do a better job,” Davis said. “It’s been a great first effort exercise.”

The commissioners broke into pairs again Thursday to keep working on their regional maps, with the intention of merging them into a statewide proposal on Friday.

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