After last week’s release of detailed 2020 Census data the state will use to help redraw its legislative districts for the next decade, the House Redistricting Committee announced its plans to meet several times over the next month to learn more about the information and take public testimony on it.
The committee held the first of those meetings Wednesday, an information-only gathering that featured several presentations, including one from State Demographer Susan Brower, who told members Minnesota’s population grew by 7.6% from 2010 to 2020, for a total population of 5,706,494 as of April 1, 2020.
Brower’s presentation highlighted some of the population shifts that will guide how the revised district boundaries are to be created. She told members that 51 Minnesota counties gained population, while 36 counties lost it. But most of the gains occurred in the seven-county Twin Cities metro area, which added 313,537 people, or 78% of the state’s growth, over the last decade.
Legislative districts where population shrank, or did not grow as quickly, will need to expand to include more people, whereas the fastest growing districts will need to shrink and potentially divide to include fewer people. This will likely mean more urban districts and fewer rural districts, which may have political consequences
Because the redistricting process often means gains or losses for the political parties – and could potentially shift control of the House or Senate from one party to the other – lawmakers have been unable to agree on a final result over the last few decades and the courts have had to step in to determine the new district boundaries.
The committee plans to hold a series of listening sessions over the next several weeks to give members of the public the opportunity to testify on the redistricting process.
The meetings are to be organized by the state’s eight Congressional Districts. The next two listening sessions, for example, will take place Wednesday, Aug. 25, when members will hear from the public in the 5th Congressional District at 2:00 p.m., then gather again for a 7:00 p.m. hearing where people in the 4th Congressional District are invited to share their testimony.
Listening sessions for the other districts are:
The redistricting process must be complete in advance of the 2022 election cycle, meaning lawmakers don’t have a lot of time if they are to meet the Feb. 15, 2022 deadline when the enactment of new district plans is expected to be done.
Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), the committee’s Republican lead, asked Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), the committee’s chair, whether her plan is to have the committee create a new redistricting map for the Legislature to consider. Murphy said it is her “strong intent” to create the reapportionment map over the next few months.
“We still don’t have all the information that we need, but we have enough information to start building the foundation of what we need to do,” Murphy said. “…I would hope that in and around the middle of December we would have some kind of product to discuss with legislators.”