House sends redistricting bill to Senate after changes

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The Indiana House passed a bill Tuesday that assigns a bipartisan commission the job of redrawing legislative and congressional districts after each decennial Census.

House Bill 1032 is now headed to the Senate.

The commission would be made up of four members, each appointed by a leader of a legislative caucus, then a fifth appointed by the four members.

The redistricting committee would be in charge of drawing maps for the state House, state Senate and congressional districts.

The bill passed 77-20 after amendments meant to make the process as independent as possible and require a unanimous vote of the commission to pass the maps. Democrats offered both amendments.

Rep. Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, offered an amendment to ensure that discussions between lawmakers and committee members are public. Every conversation would be in writing. “I want to make the committee as truly independent as possible,” said GiaQuinta.

Rep. Kreg Battles, D-Vincennes, offered the amendment that requires a unanimous vote.

“The constitution demands maps be drawn,” Battles said. “Since the constitution requires it, it will cause the committee to come to an agreement.”

House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, acknowledged that several Democrats would vote for the measure.

“But the fact of the matter is that you can pull an Indiana map (of legislative districts) out of a port-a-john, throw it against the wall and it would be better than the maps that you guys drew,” Pelath said, referring to the districts drawn in 2001 by majority Republicans. Since then, the GOP has nabbed a quorum-proof majority in the chamber.

But the bill’s author, Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, said the maps drawn in the last session have been unbelievably better than in the past.

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