Sunday, December 4, 2011

Wyoming Legislature

Redistricting options proliferate
County clerks offer second statewide plan; other new options surface for Southwest Wyoming and Laramie County

       Wyoming’s legislative redistricting effort will take the stage again Monday with new plans added to the mix.
       Three more plans have been posted on the Legislature's website, including a new plan drawn up by the County Clerks and a new alternative plan for Southwest Wyoming drafted by two senators from the region. Both these new plans would eliminate the gerrymandered district created in 2002 that combined most of Sublette County, northern Lincoln County, and Wilson  and in Teton County. Officials from both Sublette and Teton counties dislike that combination and have pleaded with legislators that it be changed.
        A third new plan for Laramie County also has been posted on the Legislative Service Office's website.
        The Joint Corporations, Elections, and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee will work tomorrow and Tuesday (Dec. 5 and 6) in Room 302 at the Capitol to finalize its proposal to the Legislature. The redistricting discussion is begins at 11 a.m., according to the committee's agenda.
       Redistricting – the process of periodically redrawing district lines to equalize district populations – takes place every 10 years following the federal census. The 2010 Census revealed considerable growth in the energy boom counties, particularly Campbell and Sublette counties, and in Teton County. Those numbers also found that population had declined in other counties, mostly in northeastern Wyoming and the Big Horn Basin.
       Districts must shift accordingly, though legislators have considerable discretion in doing so.
       House District 22 in western Wyoming
       The committee has seen considerable tension around plans to redraw lines for what is now designated House District 22. Growth in Sublette County gives it more than enough residents to form a single House district within its boundaries. But Sublette County was involved in a “gerrymandering” imposed in 2002 when northern and eastern areas of the county, including Pinedale, were combined in a district extending from south Wilson in Teton County through northern Lincoln County, up the Hoback River to Bondurant and down the east side of the county.
       Wilson and Pinedale residents have been clear that they don’t share a significant community of interest and want to be separated.
       The latest proposal for the region posted on the LSO website again was developed by southwestern Wyoming Sens. Marty Martin, a Democrat, and Stan Cooper, a Republican. It severs Sublette County from Teton County to create the new House District 22. The plan combines Wilson with Afton in a new configuration of House District 21.
       Eastern Wyoming
       The new plan offered by the county clerks appears to carve a seat out of the eastern border counties and to give Campbell County five representatives (compared to four under the present system).  One of those districts is combined with northern Converse County. (Analyst's caveat: The plan appears to do this but this is a cursory comparison with other plans.)

       Co-Chairman Pete Illoway, a Cheyenne Republican, told the Associated Press that the committee could meet again in late December or January if does not finalize its work this week.