GOP bills would establish objective guidelines, bipartisan review of other states' best practices
Lawmakers today approved Senate Republicans' sweeping redistricting reforms establishing objective guidelines for creating legislative and congressional districts after the 2010 census and requiring an in-depth bipartisan review of redistricting best practices used by states.
"In the past, there has been little guidance in either the Indiana law or the Indiana Constitution regarding redistricting," said Sen. Connie Lawson (R-Danville), author of the legislation. "These new objective principles will be very helpful to lawmakers in constructing new legislative and congressional districts next session and beyond."
Lawson said Senate Bill 80, which passed by a vote of 47-1, will require lawmakers to consider the following factors when drawing future districts:
• Preservation of traditional neighborhoods;
• Preservation of local communities of interests;
• Protection of minority voting rights;
• Simply-shaped, compact districts; and
• Respect for county and precinct lines.
Senators also voted 45-3 to approve legislation creating an in-depth bipartisan study of best practices of other states. Senate Bill 136, co-authored by Lawson, would establish the Redistricting Study Committee and task the panel with examining ways to improve the redistricting process including proposals to establish an independent commission to draw legislative and congressional district boundaries.
"This committee will openly discuss what is and is not working among the other 49 states' redistricting efforts," Lawson said. "I believe it's important we take the time to allow Hoosiers the opportunity to share their thoughts on the redistricting process so we can make a decision that best serves them in the future."
SB 80 and SB 136 now move to the House of Representatives for further consideration.
From Indiana Senate