Proposed legislative map L01 shows how legislative districts would be split in North Idaho. The redistricting commission will conduct public hearings in the region this week. (Map courtesy of Idaho Commission for Reapportionment)
Idaho’s bipartisan redistricting commission wants to hear residents’ of North Idaho and North Central Idaho views about the best way to redraw the state’s political boundaries.
Commissioners will hold three days worth of public hearings in the region beginning Wednesday in Sandpoint. Other hearings this week are planned for Coeur d’Alene, Moscow, Lewiston and before the Coeur d’Alene Tribe.
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Redistricting, which is required by the U.S. Constitution and the Idaho Constitution, is the process of redrawing Idaho’s 35 legislative district boundaries and two congressional district boundaries.
The process takes place every 10 years and uses new U.S. Census Bureau data to ensure political representation is equal across the state. Idaho was the second-fastest growing state in the country over the past 10 years, according to the 2020 census, but that growth was uneven and divided.
During the public hearings, the six commissioners will present three “rough draft” versions of proposed new maps, which are available to view under the “maps” tab on the redistricting website.
Commissioners will display two proposed congressional maps, one of which splits Ada County between the two congressional districts and the other of which places Ada County and the Treasure Valley entirely within the first congressional district. For the past 10 years, Ada, which is the state’s most populated county, has been split between the two congressional districts.
Commissioners will also present a rough version of their proposed legislative map, which splits eight of Idaho’s 44 counties.
The public hearings will continue into October and take place regionally throughout the state. Commissioners plan to use input from the hearings to improve the rough drafts of proposed maps they put forward.
“We are truly hopeful to have a more serious map over the next three or four weeks,” redistricting commission co-chairman Bart Davis said during Thursday’s public hearing in Meridian.
The redistricting commission first convened Sept. 1, and it has until Nov. 30 to turn in its redistricting plan and new congressional and legislative map to the state.
“We are hopeful to do it much more quickly than that,” Davis said.
The redistricting process is complicated and delicate by its nature. Commissioners have only 90 days to create a plan, and they have to balance all sorts of rules and guidelines from state law, the Idaho Constitution and Idaho Supreme Court rulings. For instance, they must create 35 nearly-equally populated legislative districts while splitting as few of Idaho’s 44 counties as possible. They also are told to avoid dividing cities and communities of interest and to not create oddly-shaped districts.
“We cannot and we should not, in my opinion, have the goal of making everybody happy because we are not going to,” redistricting commission co-chairman Dan Schmidt told the Idaho Capital Sun last month.
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Idaho is one of 14 states that uses a commission to handle redistricting, according to the National Council of State Legislatures. Idaho’s commission is bipartisan — three commissioners were appointed by Democrats while three were appointed by Republicans. In the remaining states, the state legislature or assembly is responsible for redistricting.
Anyone who attends any of this week’s public hearings is welcome to sign in and offer testimony or feedback. The meetings will be streamed live online, for free, using Idaho Public Television’s Idaho in Session service. To watch one of the hearings, visit the Idaho in Session webpage while a hearing is taking place, select the correct date from the calendar and click on “Commission for Reapportionment” to watch live.
This week’s public hearing schedule (all times local):
- 1 p.m., Wednesday, The Library — Sandpoint Branch, 1407 Cedar St., Sandpoint.
- 7 p.m., Wednesday, Bob and Leona DeArmond Building, Room 106, 901 W. River Ave., Coeur d’Alene.
- 1 p.m., Thursday, Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Marimn Health Medical Center, 427 N. 12th St., Plummer.
- 7 p.m. Thursday, Moscow City Hall Council Chambers, 206 E. Third St., Moscow.
- 11a.m. Friday, Lewis-Clark State College, Silverthorne Theater, 500 Eighth Ave., Lewiston.
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