Halfway through the decade, lawmakers are getting serious about changing how state and federal legislative districts are drawn. “We need to move on this discussion and I think this is the year to do that,” Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said. Under current law, the Indiana House and Senate draw new congressional and legislative maps every 10 years after the census. But a handful of states have moved to independent or bipartisan commissions to eliminate many of the political considerations in drawing maps that favor one party over another. Technology today allows maps to be easily manipulated to constantly gauge the political leanings of voters in specific areas. They also can be drawn specifically to avoid two incumbents facing off in the same new district.
The Indiana House voted 77-20 last year to move to a redistricting commission. But the measure stalled in the Senate.
Long said this week that the likely first move is to establish a summer study committee to vet the idea.
Usually this would be seen as a defeat but supporters of the measure concede the complexities of the issue call for some extra study that likely can’t happen during a busy legislative session.
Then the General Assembly could enact the law in 2016 for the 2020 census. New maps would be drawn in 2021.