Redistricting committee begins evaluating other drawing methods

A special legislative committee began its examination of Indiana’s election districts Thursday with the goal of possibly recommending changes to the way these districts are drawn.

The Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting’s first meeting began at 1p.m.  in Room 404 Indiana Statehouse.

Among the individuals scheduled to speak is Terre Haute attorney James Bopp Jr., best known for his advocacy to political campaign contributions limits in U.S. Supreme Court case Citizens United.  His presentation, “There ain’t no such thing as non-partisan redistricting,” will be followed by former Indiana Justice Ted Boehm’s presentation, “Constitutional challenges to gerrymanders.”

Led by chair Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, and vice chair Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, the committee has been charged with determining the benefits and consequences as well as the costs of implementing a new redistricting method. The group will examine alternative approaches to drawing state and congressional districts and consider any changes that would need to be made to either state law or the Indiana Constitution if a new method is used.

The other Republicans on the committee are Indianapolis Sen. Patricia Miller and Noblesville Rep. Kathy Richardson. Democratic Senate leader Timothy Lanane, Anderson, and Sen. Karen Tallian, Portage, along with Reps. John Bartlett, Indianapolis, and Justin Moed, Indianapolis, are on the committee.  

Lay members of the committee were appointed by majority and minority leadership in the Statehouse. Along with Boehm, other community participants on the committee are former Republican state senator Beverly Gard; Sheila Kennedy, former executive director of the Indiana Civil Liberties Union, and Tom Sugar, former aide to Gov. Evan Bayh.

House Bill 1003, passed during the 2015 session of the Indiana General Assembly, established the redistricting committee. Authored by House Speaker Republican Brian Bosma, the measure sailed through the lower chamber with no opposition and only picked up seven no votes in the Senate.

The committee has to submit a final report to the legislative council before Dec. 1, 2016.   

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