2 Western Slope lawmakers named to bipartisan redistricting panel

Two Western Slope lawmakers will serve on a special legislative panel that will look at redrawing congressional district lines next year.

Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Village, and Rep.-elect Don Coram, R-Montrose, will be among 10 others from the Legislature who are to conduct public hearings around the state to get input on how those lines should be drawn.

Redrawing legislative and congressional district lines is required every 10 years, after a U.S. Census determines a new population count.

While state House and Senate districts are decided by a Legislative Reapportionment Commission appointed by the Legislature, governor and Colorado Supreme Court, congressional lines are decided solely by legislators.

But because it is a highly charged process, Senate President Brandon Shaffer, D-Longmont, and House Speaker-to-be Frank McNulty, R-Highlands Ranch, said they wanted to try to take as much of the politics out of it as they could.

“Our goal in creating this committee is to take a new approach to the congressional redistricting process that is focused on drawing fair boundary lines and avoiding the partisan squabbles that have marked this process in past years,” McNulty said in a statement.

“Our members of the committee share that goal and are equally committed to ensuring a fair and transparent process.”

The panel will be made up of five Republicans and five Democrats, appointed by Shaffer, McNulty and the minority leaders in the House and Senate.

The last time the Legislature tried to redraw congressional lines, the process took three years.

At the time, the House and the governor’s office were controlled by Republicans, but the Democrats held a one-vote majority in the Senate.

As a result, proposed district maps were rejected by both chambers, leaving a court to decide the outcome.

This year, lawmakers fear a similar outcome because while the Democrats have the governor’s office and the Senate, Republicans have a one-vote majority in the House.


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