Idaho lawmakers on Monday proposed a measure with strong Republican support that would dramatically change the state’s independent commission in charge of re-drawing congressional and legislative maps every decade. Redistricting is important because it can decide which party gets the majority of congressional and state legislative seats. It is a contentious issue nationwide. The Senate State Affairs Committee introduced a proposal that would amend Idaho’s Constitution to change the state’s redistricting commission from six to nine members, with the state’s legislative council deciding the ninth commissioner. The proposal will go to Idaho voters in November if it passes by a two-thirds majority in the GOP-dominant Senate and House.
Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, a Democrat from Ketchum, cast the only no vote during the proposal’s first evaluation by lawmakers. “The current system works, I don’t see the reason for this change,” she said.
Rep. Tom Loertscher, a seven-term Republican from Iona, and Sen. Marv Hagedorn, a Meridian Republican running for lieutenant governor, are sponsoring the bill.
Currently, districts for Congress and the state Legislature are drawn every 10 years by a six-member commission answerable only to the courts. The majority and minority party leaders in each legislative chamber each select one person to serve on the commission; the state chairs of the Republican and Democratic parties also each select a commissioner. Commissioners cannot be government officials or lobbyists.