Lawmakers begin reviewing proposed legislative district maps
The state Legislature created a special committee to comb through the maps outlining Montana’s 150 legislative districts. The maps were created by Montana’s five-person Districting and Apportionment Commission after more than two years of work. Lawmakers don’t have the power to amend the maps, but they are tasked with making recommendations before the maps are finalized later this year.
Commission chair Maylinn Smith used her tiebreaking vote last month to side with Democrats and advance the maps of the legislative districts. Smith said the maps are not set in stone and she looks forward to feedback from the Legislature.
Republicans in the statehouse have largely echoed criticism from Republicans on the commission, saying that Democrats drew the lines to give themselves a disproportionate political advantage. Democrats refute that claim and say that their proposals offer political fairness in elections.
Speaker of the House Matt Regier of Kalispell says that after seeing the draft map, some in his caucus want to change how the commission works.
“If the map goes through the way it is, there’s a lot of legislators that feel disenfranchised,” he says.
A yet-to-be introduced proposal from Republican Rep. Paul Green of Hardin to change the state Constitution, would create an algorithm to guide the line drawing process. Speaker Regier says several other Republican lawmakers are also looking to change the process.
House Minority Leader Kim Abbott of Helena says that Democrats are looking forward to providing feedback to help refine the district maps and will push back against any proposal made to change the redistricting process.
“You’ll see some fierce opposition and a real protection of a commission that is built in a way where there has to be compromise,” Abbott says.
A first meeting of the Legislature’s special committee has not been scheduled, but the non-binding feedback from legislators is due in less than a month.
A Republican backed constitutional amendment would prohibit the use of political data to draw election maps, and give lawmakers more say over a process that is largely out of their control.
Montana’s commission in charge of drawing new political districts has adopted final maps that will be in place for the next decade. Democrats’ map won on a tie-breaking vote.
Republican lawmakers are continuing to question the constitutionality of the proposed maps for the state's political boundaries. They’ve advanced amendments that they want to see in the final drawing
The commission responsible for drawing Montana’s new legislative districts is close to finishing its once-a-decade duty after advancing a map on Wednesday.
The Montana Commission is drawing the state’s new legislative districts, and has advanced a map proposed by Democrats for public input.
Democrats and Republicans on the state’s commission charged with drawing new legislative districts are hoping to find common ground by the end of the week.