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Montana politics, elections and legislative news

Proposed legislative district map is open to public input

 House District Map 8 is one of the maps proposed by the state districting and apportionment commission. The commission must submit a final map to the state Legislature within the first 10 days of the next session, which begins January 2. Lawmakers can review, but not amend, the new district map.
Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission
House District Map 8 is one of the maps proposed by the state districting and apportionment commission. The commission must submit a final map to the state Legislature within the first 10 days of the next session, which begins January 2. Lawmakers can review, but not amend, the new district map.

The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission is drawing the state’s new legislative districts, and has advanced a map proposed by Democrats for public input.

The two Democrats and two Republicans on the Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission sparred over their respective proposals for four days until nonpartisan chair Maylinn Smith used her tie-breaking vote.

Smith says the Democrats’ map is only a jumping off point to generate public comment. The commission won’t adopt a final map, which will outline 150 legislative districts, until later this month.

“You guys have the capabilities to move toward consensus. I understand right now that’s not going to be likely but that’s still going to be my ultimate goal throughout this process.”

Democrats have focused on creating legislative districts that give their candidates a competitive chance as Republicans gain political power in Montana. They base that competitiveness on past election data and the proportion of Democratic voters in the state.

Republicans say Democrats are taking that goal too far, and that the Constitution requires the districts to be compact and contiguous first. Democrats say they’ve addressed that concern by limiting the number of counties split on their map.

The commission must submit a final map to the state Legislature within the first 10 days of the next session, which begins on Jan. 2. Lawmakers can review, but not amend, the new district map.

Shaylee began covering state government and politics for Montana Public Radio in August 2020. Originally from Belgrade, Montana, she graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program and previously worked as a reporter for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle and UM’s Legislative News Service. Please share tips, questions and concerns by emailing shaylee.ragar@mso.umt.edu.