I received a letter from my state representative recently recounting her work in the General Assembly just past and asked if there were any issues on my mind. Here is part of my reply:
1---I object to spending an estimated $300,000 of taxpayers’ money for a special session on a matter—legislative redistricting—that could have been handled in a regular session.
2—Even more, I object to the way this is handled..protecting one’s turf (unless your name is Kathy Stein) rather than a non-partisan approach, as I believe some 16 states do, considering geography, citizen interests, and population. This issue is much too important to be left to those with such a strong personal interest..a conflict of interest in the extreme…in this matter. We need now, for the next time if not this year, to set up a commission of population and geography specialists to recommend a map that would go into effect unless over-ruled by a 2/3s vote of each chamber.
3—we need public hearings on proposed maps before they are finally voted on. The House has taken two years already, and should allow for voters’ comments on maps that vitally affect their districts before final passage.
I got a reply indicating, between the lines, the die was cast for this year---as indeed it is—but maybe something could be done next time (ten years down the broad.) We shall see.
Besides an “incumbent protection bill”, which these maps are, lawmakers hope you and I will have such short memories we will forget their egregious behavior…but the time to start setting up a non-partisan commission to do this vital job is NOW..whether for the next election or the ones after the next census reports.
I find it of more than passing interest the Lt. Gov has just said the administration has no interest in a special session to overhaul our tax code..as one more blue ribbon commission’s report urging action gathers dust, somewhere in the governor’s office. That might be a special session worth calling.
I'm just sayin'...