Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What about the incumbents?

The most important issue of this legislative session that isn't the budget is finally surfacing. At 12:30, a House committee will finally hear a bill on redistricting. The House media services and the Uptake will cover this hearing and you can watch it live. I find it interesting that while the racino bill hearing was rescheduled to avoid competing with Jeb Bush's appearance, the redisticting hearing will happen under the cover of that media circus.
EDIT AFTER PUBLISHING: In the welter of amendments posted to the delete all amendment, I missed one that inserts the incumbency language. Nothing like writing something and realizing nearly immediately that you're wrong. Sorry about that, readers.

The section about prioritization below is correct.

You can read all of the amendments for yourself here.

You should watch the 12:30 hearing.
Governor Dayton sent a letter to legislative leadership outlining the principles he believes must be followed in drawing new legislative maps. These principles were laid out by the courts after the process between the Legislature and Governor deadlocked in 2001. They include:
5. Not be drawn for the purpose of protecting or defeating an incumbent.
Dayton's letter noted that the redistricting bill did not include principles for redistricting. Now, in the form of an amendment, the GOP redistricting principles are finally out. And while there is substantial overlap between the Governor's letter and these principles, there is one notable omission; the GOP principles don't include the incumbency provision.

The GOP principles are, in order of priority:
1. Nesting (MN House districts must nest inside of MN Senate districts)
2. Equal population
3. Contiguity and Compactness
4. Minority representation (cannot concentrate or disperse minority communities)
5. Avoiding division of cities, counties
6. Preserving communities of interest
While that seems rather banal, prioritizing compactness over minority representation is a sticky wicket that might be litigated. In fact, the amendment notes that the prioritization can't violate federal laws like the Voting Rights Act. In practice, it will be a court that decides that, but it's most likely that courts will draw the map due to a deadlock between the Governor and Legislature.

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