Eye On Boise

Redistricting commissioners hone in on North Idaho flashpoint: District 2

Republican redistricting commissioners had a surprising bit of news for their Democratic counterparts this afternoon: They're not ready to submit a new redistricting plan this afternoon, as planned. "We have not yet come to a consensus on this side of the aisle to present one of those concepts," said GOP Co-Chairman Evan Frasure. "We're still very actively working on it. We recognize that that clock is ticking." After GOP commissioners attempted again to suggest doing a congressional plan first - an idea Democratic commissioners already have rejected, the two side began talking about a flashpoint issue: The treatment of District 2 in North Idaho in the Democratic plan. That district takes in southern Bonner County, then stretches all the way south through Shoshone County down to Riggins.

"It's not just District 2, I might add, but that's probably a great example," said GOP Commissioner Lou Esposito. "How do we move forward with that? ... How do we find the common ground to deal with that basic fundamental issue of a district like that?"

Commissioner Lorna Finman of Rathdrum said, "District 2 is a worse version of what was done 10 years ago, which up north was an outrage to everybody, an abomination was the word. And to leave a legacy of a District 2 that's worse than 10 years ago, at least to me, was a nonstarter." She said, "There's no common ground between Lake Pend Oreille on down to Riggins. It's an unwieldy district. We also had strong testimony from Benewah and Shoshone county commissioners ... that they would likee to be together. So there's a lot of public input that we're ignoring in this map."

She added that in the last round of redistricting, "Districts 2 and 31 were so offensive to the people of the state that a bill as put forward and statutes came out of it. I have heard a lot of negative response on District 2 and I agree with it, it is a huge district that violates a lot of the road rule." That rule, enacted into law in 2009, requires districts to be linked by highways. "You do not have to do that, it's not the only way to do it," Finman said. "We've presented many maps. They can do it in other ways."

Democratic Commissioner Julie Kane then asked for a brief recess to get some maps from upstairs with alternative concepts for the area, and the commission took a 10-minute break.
 




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Russell covers Idaho news from the state capitol in Boise and writes the Eye on Boise blog.

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