Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Redistricting: Odds and Ends

Redistricting MinnesotaThese are a few redistricting related stories that don't quite fit into their own posts. I used to do this sort of thing as "This Week in Redistricting" but now I don't. What is the significance of this change? We'll likely never know, but we must move forward under the new regime, "Odds and Ends" it is!


First we have the Special Redistricting Panel releasing it's schedule for oral arguments, which is as follows:

Scheduling Order #2
Oct 19, 2011 Responses to motions to adopt proposed redistricting criteria
Oct 26, 2011 Oral argument on redistricting criteria and unresolved issues
Nov 18, 2011 Motions to adopt redistricting plans and supporting memoranda
Dec 9, 2011 Responses to motions to adopt redistricting plans and supporting memoranda
Jan 4, 2011 Oral argument on redistricting plans

Coming up on October 26th are oral arguments on redistricting criteria, this is to decide specifically what parameters will be used to draw the lines and in what order they will be considered.

This hearing will only be noteworthy to the extent that the court deviates from past redistricting criteria, which seems unlikely. In 2001, the criteria used was the familiar redistricting criteria; population equity, a minimum amount of city/municipality/county splitting, districts be compact, convenient and contiguous and that communities of interest be preserved.

In the criteria the GOP produced during the legislative session they included one more item; "a plan may be reviewed to determine its effect on all incumbents, including determination of whether the plan results in either undue incumbent protection or excessive incumbent conflicts."

That item is not part of their legal filing in the case, so I guess that tells you all you need to know about what they think the court would do with it. I'll be taking a more thorough look at all of the criteria filings in a future post.

The main event in the above schedule happens on January 4th, that's the oral arguments on the actual maps that will be submitted by all parties.


Additionally, the GOP looks like it wants to cut a deal to avoid the court maps altogether.

Rep. Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth, is making another round of calls to her DFL counterparts in the hope of getting ideas on how the state's legislative and congressional boundaries should be drawn. Anderson, who chairs the House Redistricting Committee, sent letters to the 62 Democrats in the Minnesota House asking for advice on the maps.

Gov. Dayton vetoed the GOP redistricting plan in May. Since then, most observers predicted that a court appointed panel will have to draw the maps. But Anderson says she's still hoping the Legislature can pass a map that Dayton can sign.

The set of maps that passed the legislature last session were clearly partisan in nature; the congressional map radically reconfigured the seventh and eighth district for the sole purpose of protecting Chip Craavack, and the legislative maps, coincidentally enough, drew a bunch of DFLers together and hardly any GOPers.

But if the GOP is willing to work with the DFL on an actual compromise map it might be too tempting to ignore. The last thing any incumbent legislator wants is for the court to slice up their district and force them to run against another incumbent. A good compromise map will ensure that the maximum number of incumbents are protected in both parties.

If it was up to me I'd rebuff this compromise offer and let the courts sort it out. The upside of a court map is much greater for the DFL than the downside and the upside of a compromise is much greater for the GOP than the downside of a court map.

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