Census delay points to special session for Indiana lawmakers

A delay in the completion of data from last year’s census has Indiana legislative leaders anticipating a special session over the summer to draw new maps for congressional and General Assembly districts.

The Indiana House and Senate leaders said Thursday that they were disappointed the delay won’t allow redistricting work to be done before the planned adjournment of the legislative session in late April.

The U.S. Census Bureau is aiming to deliver population figures used for divvying up congressional seats by the end of April, with legislative district information sometime after July. The census data was supposed to be ready by the end of 2020.

“At the end of the day, it means we’ll be here after July, trying to figure out redistricting, what those districts look like,” Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said.

State lawmakers face the once-a-decade task of drawing new districts for congressional seats, along with the 100 Indiana House and 50 state Senate districts, based on population shifts.

Democrats and voting-rights advocates have pushed for the establishment of an independent commission to oversee the map drawing, arguing that partisan gerrymandering has helped Indiana Republicans to gain outsized power in the Legislature. But the Republican-dominated House and Senate have shown no signs of giving up control of redistricting.

Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston both said they expected the Legislature would decide the congressional maps by overriding a current state law turning that process over to a partisan commission if those districts aren’t decided by the end of April.

It isn’t clear how long a special session for redistricting could last. A legislative report estimates a two-day session would cost about $69,000.

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6 thoughts on “Census delay points to special session for Indiana lawmakers

  1. “Independent commission” comes from the land of trolls and unicorns. I’m not saying the Democrats’ effort here is based in bad faith. In an ideal world, independent commissions would work wonderfully. This is not an ideal world. Independent commissions are no more likely to be non-partisan than “public radio” or a “military tribunal”.

    1. Independent commissions are likely to produce a result far less partisan than whatever the Republican supermajorities come up with.

    2. Democrats get around 30-40% of the vote in Indiana in statewide elections.

      Republicans control 67% of the Indiana house, 80% of the senate, and 78% of the congressional representatives.

      My favorite thing about Indiana’s maps are how they’re drawn to dilute the influence of Indianapolis, the economic engine for the state. I can’t tell if it’s done from stupidity or jealously, but as Indianapolis and the suburbs go, so goes the state of Indiana.

      Little wonder Republicans at the statehouse spend all their time on nonsense bills and aren’t forced to offer competitive ideas. They just cater to their donors and swipes at Indianapolis while the state slips behind.

      It’s not any better at the Congressional level. There hasn’t been an Indiana congressman worth the cost to taxpayers since Lugar. Mike Pence didn’t get a bill passed in 12 years. I couldn’t tell you what Andre Carson does. Jim Banks is an embarrassment who appears to be working on a career as a conservative media pundit. Trey Hollingsworth lived in Indiana for around 15 minutes before he bought his seat in the primary.

      I’d settle for those drawing the maps being prohibited from using incumbent residences, election results, party registration, and socio-economic data.

      And better congressional districts would help, but so with the Indiana Democratic Party trying to come up with some sort of ideas to win elections. They just can’t count on people reluctantly voting Democrat because they are tired of the clown car that is the Indiana Republican Party, and they have to figure out a messaging strategy to break through the nonsense peddled by conservative media. It will be a tall task and they may not achieve it.

  2. Good comments, Joe B. Wish we could have a tri-partisan (Dem/Rep/Ind) redistricting commission as the AllIN4Democracy folks are suggesting. Supermajorities of either party just aren’t good for democracy.

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