Lawmakers and community stakeholders seeking transparent reform for legislative redistricting hope to clear a major roadblock today, as a bill creating a government-appointed commission in charge of redistricting is up for a vote in the House Administration Committee. The five-member committee, made up of the leadership from both parties, is set to hear a year-old bill that would make the process of drawing up the state’s 62 legislative districts public and out of the hands of majority party lawmakers in a closed door procedure that’s not under the state’s FOIA laws. The bill only needs three votes to be released onto the House floor for a full debate. “I don’t see a need for it,” said House Speaker Pete Schwartzkopf, D-Rehoboth Beach, on Tuesday, the legislature’s first day back from Easter break. After securing his party’s vote as House Majority Leader in 2010, Rep. Scwartzkopf was directly involved with redrawing the House of Representatives’ 41 legislative districts, a process that takes place every 10 years to reflect population changes in the U.S. Census survey.
“I think we did a pretty good job,” he said. He said there was no reason to change the process since a public comment opportunity for community members to give their feedback on the redistricting had been included.
However, Senate Bill 48, which passed the Senate in 2013 by a 13-7 vote, would create an 11-member commission appointed by members of the House and Senate majority and minority parties.
Lawmakers could not appoint an individual who is either an elected official, a newly registered lobbyist or an elected state official within two years of appointment or selection, per the new law.
This is the 10th bill introduced since 1995 that has attempted to restructure the redistricting process.