Colorado lawmakers to meet on redistricting
DENVER (AP) – Republicans and Democrats are hopeful they can agree on a plan for redistricting by April. If not, they may have to come back in a special session this summer, because lawmakers are required by law to come up with a plan.
A decade ago, it took seven years and a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court to get it done.
On Wednesday, a committee of five Democrats and five Republicans will lay out their agenda for a statewide tour to hold hearings.
The concern is that both parties will use the hearings to gather ammunition for a floor fight in April and a court case that could follow.
Rep. David Balmer, who co-chairs the committee, said he doesn’t want the panel to begin the hearings with that expectation.
“We are very serious about passing a fair redistricting map prior to the end of April,” said Balmer, a Republican from Centennial. “A lot of people said we could not do this and get a bipartisan consensus. We should do it, and we should not leave it to the courts.”
Three of the committee’s 10 members were appointed by the House speaker, three by the Senate president, and two each by the House and Senate minority leaders.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat, says he hopes lawmakers end up with competitive districts in all the state’s seven congressional districts. But that’s unlikely because of population shifts in Colorado over the past 10 years.
Lawmakers must redraw the boundaries of congressional districts every 10 years based on population growth, and lawmakers usually worry about drawing the lines to include communities that will support their parties’ candidates to ensure safe victories.
The last time around, the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-controlled House couldn’t agree on a congressional map that included a new 7th District awarded by the 2000 census.
In 2002, a Denver District Court judge drew his own congressional map, saying lawmakers failed to do their jobs. But the following year, Republicans gained control of the Senate and rejected the judge’s map. They drew their own, saying the state constitution gave the responsibility to the Legislature.
The state Supreme Court upheld the district judge’s plan. A divided U.S. Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal.
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