Legislative leaders are laying the groundwork for a return by all 150 lawmakers to Indianapolis months from now to approve new congressional and General Assembly districts based on data from last year’s census.
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.
The coalition of some 25 groups, including Common Cause Indiana, the NAACP and the League of Women Voters, said they hoped public pressure would force Republicans not to draw new voting districts behind closed doors.
Redistricting reform advocates are taking a slightly different approach at the Republican-controlled Indiana Legislature this year, as they make more transparency the priority ahead of lines being redrawn in 2021.
Senate Bill 105, authored by Elections Chair Greg Walker, R-Columbus, would establish a series of standards lawmakers would use to redraw district lines following population reapportionment, which occurs each decade after the completion of the U.S. Census.
In cases involving districts in Wisconsin and Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court sidestepped ruling on whether electoral maps can give an unfair advantage to a political party.
The bill would set criteria for redrawing electoral districts, but the measure falls far short of a comprehensive redistricting overhaul that good government groups have sought for years.
Despite strong support from influential Republicans and fired-up grassroots activists, redistricting reform legislation faces several significant hurdles in the short session.
An effort to change who is responsible for drawing Indiana's election maps is unlikely to gain approval this year after a legislative panel declined to take a vote on the issue.
House Bill 1032 would create a redistricting commission to hold hearings, take public comment and recommend plans to redraw legislative and congressional districts. But leaders plan to send the issue to a study committee first.
The Indiana Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled in favor of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in a dispute between the mayor and Democratic members of the City-County Council who challenged a redistricting plan passed in late 2011.
The Republican-controlled Indiana House is set to take up legislation that would give a bipartisan commission the duty of drawing district maps.
State Senator from Speedway plays outsized role in shaping policy for Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard on Friday vetoed a City-County Council redistricting plan, likely setting the stage for a lengthy court battle. He wants to stick with the lines drawn by Republicans in late 2011, before newly elected Democrats took control.