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Redistricting Bill Moves Forward

Jim Grey

The first step toward changing the way Indiana draws its legislative maps goes to the full House next week.

But legislative leaders have different ideas about what the final step should be.

House Speaker Brian Bosma and Senate President Pro Tem David Long have said they want a blue-ribbon panel to study whether Indiana should turn redistricting over to an independent commission, and whether that commission should be advisory or have full power to draw the maps.

Minority Leader Scott Pelath co-sponsored Bosma‘s bill to create the study panel, which cleared the House Rules Committee on Tuesday and goes to the House floor next week.

But while Republicans say the issue deserves study, Pelath says he‘s already convinced an independent commission is needed to get the politics out of redistricting.

"There needs to be an eye on keeping communities together," says Pelath. "There needs to be an eye on maximizing the number of competitive elections that we have in order to engage voters' interest. And that probably cannot be successfully done by the political interests."

He says the precision of computer-drawn maps makes it possible to minimize the number of competitive districts, which depresses voter turnout.

But Pelath says legislators might still need to ratify a commission‘s maps, to avoid having to amend the constitution.

A Senate committee has been considering an amendment.

Thirteen states use some form of independent redistricting commission.

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