May 1, 2011 7:33 PM by Matt Stafford

Legislature almost finished, but redistricting has a ways to go

This year's legislative session is just over a week from finished, but redistricting has legislators jockeying for position with constituents.

Redistricting is done every ten years using numbers from the most recent census. It accounts for population changes, trying to keep all of the state's congressional districts close to the same size -- roughly 700,000 people this time. Don't confuse redistricting with reapportionment. Reapportionment is the drawing of our State House and Senate lines. That process begins next week. It won't go through the legislature. A bi-partisan commission will send a proposal to the courts, and they'll either take it or send the commission back to the drawing board.

Last week a bipartisan committee -- tasked with drawing maps that legislators on both sides could agree on -- broke off redistricting talks. Senate Democrats then introduced a new congressional district map -- cutting Fort Carson and Schriever Air Force Base from the 5th District and putting them in the 3rd.

"It cuts Fountain and Security completely out of the 5th C.D. (Congressional District)," says Rep. Marsha Looper, from House District 19.

"El Paso County should remain whole," says U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, from Colorado District Five. "That's what the court decision said ten years ago, and I hope people in the legislature pay attention to that because frankly some of the maps they're coming up with do not pay attention to that."

Lamborn was a State Senator the last time around -- when legislators couldn't compromise and the courts had to find a solution. This time it affects the district he represents; and just like last time, Republicans want to keep communities of interest together.

"You split up the military bases and you make it harder for a congressman to represent all of the different military interests of this county, which are considerable," say Lamborn.

"That's sort of the point here is to have more than Representative Lamborn worried about military and military issues in and around this area," says Sen. John Morse, Senate Majority Leader and representative of District 11. Morse says he just wants competitive districts. He also wants the process of drawing the districts handled in the legislature.

"If we put it into the courts, it's sort of winner take all," says Morse. "I don't think that's in either one of our best interest, and that's why I think even with philosophical differences we can stay at the table and try to come up with something."

They have until May 11th, the end of the session, to get it done; otherwise maps will be drawn in court. They'll begin in District Court and could go all the way to the State Supreme Court, just like the process did ten years ago.



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