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Redistricting committee sees plan to redraw legislative maps

The House Redistricting Committee on Friday got its first look at what could become the House of Representatives’ plan to redraw the state’s legislative districts for the next decade.

Rep. Mary Murphy (DFL-Hermantown), the committee chair, said the proposed maps would change each of the state’s 134 House and 67 Senate districts in some way.

“Many districts had to grow by many, many miles and some districts were condensed,” Murphy said during a media availability prior the proposal’s public introduction and the Friday afternoon informational hearing for committee members. No action was taken during the meeting.

She called the plan, which is expected to become HF2632, “a first step” that could be amended moving forward, but said it was developed after input from the people of Minnesota during multiple committee meetings over the last few months.

Using data from the 2020 Census, the committee’s proposal would redraw the state’s legislative districts for the next 10 years to reflect population growth and shifts over the past decade, and create new boundaries so each district has roughly the same number of people.

Districts where the population shrank, or did not grow as quickly, will need to expand to include more people, while the fastest growing districts will need to shrink and divide to include fewer people.

A summary of the plan published by the nonpartisan House Research Department said it seeks to establish “ideal” populations of 42,586 people for each House district and 85,172 people for each Senate district. By comparison, the “ideal” population per House district during the prior redistricting process in 2012 was 39,582 people.

Rep. Ginny Klevorn (DFL-Plymouth), the committee vice chair, said the proposed maps are fair and based on “well-vetted” principles that include: adhering to a minimal deviation for population, adhering to the federal Constitution and the Voting Rights Act, and are mindful of places where communities with shared interests exist.

She said the committee also listened to tribal leaders who wanted to keep reservation populations whole, and set out to minimize the division of communities along political subdivisions such as counties, cities, school districts and township lines.

“We are committed to doing all we can to deliver a bipartisan result to the governor,” Klevorn said.

The process must be completed by Feb. 15, 2022, so that next year’s election cycle can proceed on schedule.

However, because the redistricting process can result in 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 reapportionment map over the last few decades and the state’s courts have had to step in to determine the new districts.

Murphy said the courts are again preparing to take over should the Legislature fail to reach an agreement.

With most members of the committee seeing the proposed maps for the first time, there was minimal discussion during Friday’s hearing.

Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska), the committee Republican lead, said his members have a lot of “digesting and analysis to do” as they go through the maps.

“I look forward to our continued discussions,” Torkelson said.

The House Redistricting Committee is scheduled to meet again Tuesday, Nov. 23 when a walk-through of its proposal to redraw the state’s congressional districts is planned, and additional meetings to allow public input on the proposals are tentatively planned for early December.


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