Census data will be ready Aug. 16 to begin legislative redistricting

The U.S. Census Bureau says data needed for Indiana lawmakers to redraw the state’s legislative and congressional districts will be ready Aug. 16, and legislative leaders are planning to hold hearings across the state that month to receive public input on the once-a-decade task.

Legislative leadership met last week to hash out some of the details but have yet to decide exactly when to call lawmakers back to the Statehouse to actually draw the new maps. Republicans will control the process because they hold supermajorities in the Indiana House and Senate.

House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, told IBJ in a written statement that it is still too early to set confirmed dates, but lawmakers should expect to return sometime in September.

“At this time, many details remain uncertain as we await the data from the U.S. Census. We’ve told our members to be ready to come back to session during mid-to-late September, and we will confirm a timeline as soon as possible,” Huston said.

Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said last week’s leadership meeting with Huston, Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, and House Minority Leader Phil GiaQuinta, D-Fort Wayne, did result in discussion on some tentative dates for public hearings on redistricting across all nine of Indiana’s congressional districts. Those hearings would be conducted before the legislature reconvenes to draw the maps.

Taylor said discussions centered on public hearings being conducted Aug. 6 and 7 in eight of the districts by members of both the Senate and House Election Committees, which are charged with drawing the maps. A final hearing would be in Indianapolis on Aug. 11 or 12, Taylor said. Details on the time and place of each hearing are still being worked out.

Taylor said under that timetable there would be no proposed maps to look at during the statewide hearings because the census data would not not be available until Aug. 16. He said Democrat leadership suggested holding hearings after Aug. 16, but GOP leadership insisted there would not be enough time.

Without maps, Taylor said, “it should be interesting.”

Huston did not respond directly to questions about the timing of the public hearings. Bray’s office did not offer a comment.

Once the Legislature receives the data from the U.S. Census Bureau, it could take about two weeks for the Legislative Services Agency to download the data and draw up some proposed maps.

The maps would then move through the legislative process in the House and then the Senate, which would include standard committee hearings open to the public.

Pandemic-related delays in the census data have pushed back the legislature’s traditional map-making schedule by months. Redistricting is usually completed by the time the legislature’s regular session ends in April, but this year lawmakers will have to return in September solely to focus on redistricting.

Taylor said the delay could cause a time crunch for any lawmaker who happens to get drawn out of their existing district and wants to move to improve their election chances in 2022.

Indiana law requires candidates to live in their district for at least a year before the November election. That means lawmakers would have little more than a month to move to their desired district for the 2022 election cycle if redistricting isn’t finished until late September or early October.

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3 thoughts on “Census data will be ready Aug. 16 to begin legislative redistricting

  1. Why bother with hearings anyway? We all know the legislators (yes, both parties do it) will draw their districts to suit themselves. They do not care one wit about what the public thinks, nor will they ever let the public have a real say in the process.

    Real question is, who will get drawn out of their current district in an effort to get rid of them. The Republicans will do it to some Democrats, sure, but which Republicans will get hosed by their own party? That’s where you find out who party leadership does not like at all.

  2. “Taylor said the delay could cause a time crunch for any lawmaker who happens to get drawn out of their existing district and wants to move to improve their election chances in 2022.”

    Translation: State legislators’ most important goal in the redistricting process is the protection of their own hides and what is good for the public policy process is secondary to that.

    Hence the old adage between a politician and a statesman: “a politician looks only to the next election, while a statesman looks to the next generation.”

    1. Taylor knows how the game will be played – where possible, Democrats will be drawn out of their districts. Expect a few rough Democratic primaries where two legislators end up sharing a district and have to face off.

      I’m just hoping the Republicans do the same to John Jacob. They didn’t think he’d win the primary but he did thanks to COVID, they didn’t support him in the general election, and he was a loon all session long. He can go back to protesting outside the Statehouse as a faux abortion doctor and ranting about the evils of Roman Catholicism. Give me a serious politician to vote for, please.

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