Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Redistricting Revisited

The most recent redistricting public hearing was held in Torrington on August 15 in city council chambers. The room was packed and every seat filled. There were the usual suspects – elected officials and politicians, along with a number of interested citizens. A number of individuals spoke in support of Representative Hunt’s plan; its popularity driven by the fact that Representative Hunt used county lines as the basis for districts. Former Speaker Chamberlain gave an interesting account on the history of redistricting in Wyoming. The speaker said that 20 years ago unfairness reigned supreme and this side of the state has been treated unfairly since that time. He also stated that it was important to maintain the commonality of people’s interest.

There was a great deal of testimony in this hearing and it was the liveliest of all the hearings so far.

The next day, on August 16, the committee met at the Capitol to discuss the plans that have been submitted so far. Every plan that is sponsored by a legislator will be accepted by the committee and placed on the legislative website for review. County clerks submitted a plan which was reviewed by the committee. The clerks considered Representative Hunt’s plan and used his principles as much as possible. The group also sought to hold districts as complete and intact as possible, and to use major highways when drawing lines.

Plans from Natrona, Laramie, Albany and Campbell County were also reviewed and discussed.

Dan Neal, of the Equality State Policy Center, suggested that it would be helpful to define what a “community of interest” is, as people seem to have different opinions on what the elements might be.

The committee has added two additional public hearings in Sheridan and Douglas on September 19, and the next full committee meetings will be in Casper on October 20 and 21.