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Indiana Democrats seek more time with GOP redistricting plan

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Outnumbered Democrats in the Indiana House argued Wednesday that the new election districts proposed by Republicans would lead to fewer competitive races and create more solidly GOP seats.

House Democrats said their review of the proposed districts found 14 districts closely divided politically for the 100 House seats — down from the current 24 — and that 10 of the 12 districts drawn without incumbents are heavily Republican.

Several people who testified during a House elections committee hearing Wednesday asked that the public have more time to study and comment on the new districts that were released Monday.

Indianapolis resident Robin Olds said the redistricting maps made public were too small for her to figure out which legislative district she would live in.

Mooresville town council President George Watkins said he was worried that few people knew about the proposals, such as having the suburban Indianapolis community being split between two House districts.

"That is a concern for the four or five or six citizens of Mooresville that are aware of it — and those are the ones I contacted myself last night," Watkins said.

Republicans who control the Legislature plan to advance the redistricting plan from the House and Senate elections committees this week and have new maps for the state's nine congressional, 50 state Senate and 100 state House districts before the April 29 adjournment deadline.

Rep. John Bartlett of Indianapolis, the top Democrat on the House election committee, said he was concerned about the lack of politically competitive legislative districts and what appeared to be "packing" of minorities into relatively few districts.

"We had people say they don't want legislators picking their voters, they want the voters to pick their legislators," Bartlett said. "That's a major concern for us."

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said he didn't know how the new districts might influence election results for the House, which has a 60-40 GOP majority under maps drawn by Democrats 10 years ago.

"It's not my focus to know what the political makeups of the districts are," Bosma said. "Our focus is to drawn commonsense districts."

Democrats say their analysis of the GOP-proposed districts for the state Senate show that at most 17 of the 50 districts having enough Democratic voting strength to match their party's statewide average in recent elections. Republicans now have a commanding 37-13 majority in the Senate, which they've controlled since the mid-1970s.

Members of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was formed by several advocacy groups, gave the proposed maps positive reviews for better compactness and keeping more counties and cities together than under current districts.

But they said the quickness that legislators are moving the plan would prevent them from being able to know how competitive those districts might be since little political information was available yet.

"The average person just isn't engaged enough to look at a map and say 'yeah, that's good for me' or not," said Julia Vaughn, policy director for the government watchdog group Common Cause/Indiana.

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  • Let's just get thise done
    1. Traditionally, when redistricting is scheduled, the biggest fear is the other political party will win. Unless Hoosiers have a very short memory, the next election will see a lot of change
    2. A reduction in districts will save a few dollars is setting up voting sites.
    3. The public doesnâ??t need more time to comment on districting.
    4. If some of the representatives donâ??t like how new districts are drawn, they can always hide out in an Illinois hotel room in an attempt to delay the progress.
    5. There are minorities in one way or another all over the State.
    6. Rep. John Bartlett of Indianapolis, the top Democrat on the House election committee, was not concerned about anyone in any district just a few weeks ago.
    7. Members of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, which was formed by several advocacy groups, gave the proposed maps positive reviews for better compactness and keeping more counties and cities together than under current districts.
    8. The citizens of Indiana are not as stupid as Ms. Vaughn apparently believes. "The average person just isn't engaged enough to look at a map and say 'yeah, that's good for me' or not," said Julia Vaughn, policy director for the government watchdog group Common Cause/Indiana. BALONEY.

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  1. The east side does have potential...and I have always thought Washington Scare should become an outlet mall. Anyone remember how popular Eastgate was? Well, Indy has no outlet malls, we have to go to Edinburgh for the deep discounts and I don't understand why. Jim is right. We need a few good eastsiders interested in actually making some noise and trying to change the commerce, culture and stereotypes of the East side. Irvington is very progressive and making great strides, why can't the far east side ride on their coat tails to make some changes?

  2. Boston.com has an article from 2010 where they talk about how Interactions moved to Massachusetts in the year prior. http://www.boston.com/business/technology/innoeco/2010/07/interactions_banks_63_million.html The article includes a link back to that Inside Indiana Business press release I linked to earlier, snarkily noting, "Guess this 2006 plan to create 200-plus new jobs in Indiana didn't exactly work out."

  3. I live on the east side and I have read all your comments. a local paper just did an article on Washington square mall with just as many comments and concerns. I am not sure if they are still around, but there was an east side coalition with good intentions to do good things on the east side. And there is a facebook post that called my eastside indy with many old members of the eastside who voice concerns about the east side of the city. We need to come together and not just complain and moan, but come up with actual concrete solutions, because what Dal said is very very true- the eastside could be a goldmine in the right hands. But if anyone is going damn, and change things, it is us eastside residents

  4. Please go back re-read your economics text book and the fine print on the February 2014 CBO report. A minimum wage increase has never resulted in a net job loss...

  5. The GOP at the Statehouse is more interested in PR to keep their majority, than using it to get anything good actually done. The State continues its downward spiral.

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