Redistricting commission constitutional amendments considered
Two different proposed constitutional amendments were considered in the Senate State Government Committee this week to alter the redistricting process in Minnesota. The 2020 Census will provide the necessary population data to redraw congressional and legislative district lines to more equally represent where people live. It is also possible that Minnesota may lose one of its eight congressional seats due to higher population growth in other states, which would require more significant alterations to district lines.
The first bill proposes a redistricting commission by constitutional amendment comprised of nine members, with the four legislative caucus leaders appointing one retired district court judge and one public member to the commission. The ninth member would be a retired judge and chair the commission but would not be allowed to vote. Public membership on the commission restricts individuals with significant political party affiliations or a background as a lobbyist.
The redistricting plan would be brought to the Legislature, which could amend the plan only by a two-thirds majority vote in both bodies. Otherwise, the redistricting plan would go into effect. If the constitutional amendment in this proposal were to not pass, any redistricting plan brought to the Legislature by the commission would need to be approved by a majority vote of the Legislature and signed by the governor.
The second bill proposes a redistricting commission by constitutional amendment comprised of four representatives appointed by the four legislative caucus leaders, although retired judges would be prohibited from serving. This is an unusual provision because retired judges are often considered impartial contributors in the redistricting process. Depending on the composition of the Legislature, this restricting commission could become deadlocked by partisan appointees, which would result in the redistricting process reverting to the courts. (SF 582, SF 2255)