In an otherwise divisive close to the 2018 legislative session, Colorado lawmakers have found broad agreement on at least one issue. They want out of the redistricting business. A bipartisan reform effort is flying through the assembly to ask voters to overhaul how the state decides legislative and congressional boundaries. The package would also outlaw gerrymandering in the state constitution and give new power to unaffiliated voters. The plan has already won unanimous approval in the state Senate and in two House committees. If it passes the full House, as expected, two initiatives would be added to this November’s statewide ballot.
“It’s not like all of the sudden kumbaya,” said State Sen. Stephen Fenberg, D-Boulder, who co-sponsored the effort along with legislative leaders. “It’s more like people are realizing we are just going to keep having this fight over and over and over again.”
Redistricting happens every decade based on the latest national Census. The last few cycles have resulted in fierce political battles over how to set Colorado’s congressional boundaries, but there’s been less contention over legislative districts.
That’s partially because current law has a panel of political appointees draw the legislative map. The 11 members are appointed by the chief justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, the governor and legislative leaders. Critics contend the arrangement allows one party or another to control the group.