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Eye On Boise

Republicans criticize Dems’ redistricting plan, Esposito hints at compromise

GOP redistricting commissioners are critical of L-28, the legislative redistricting plan proposed by Democratic redistricting commissioners last week, and GOP Commissioner Lou Esposito said, “I think the best way we can actually deal with the analysis on this map is to produce our own. So I'm looking at, as quickly as possible, putting a legislative map together.” He said he hopes to have one to present as soon as Wednesday, or at least by next Monday. “And while we might not meet the July 27th date, maybe Aug. 3rd won't be such a bad date after all,” Esposito said.

GOP Co-Chairman Evan Frasure called the Democrats' map “fairly radical” and said it includes “some districts that have never been put on paper before.” Esposito said it retains some undesirable aspects of the current backward-C-shaped District 2, pairing southern Bonner County with Shoshone County and points south; and also took issue with new proposed districts in central Idaho and in the Trasure Valley. One, he said, “sorta looks like a fish with a hook in its mouth or smoking a pipe. … I just think there are some basic problems with the way some of these districts line up.”

Democratic Commissioner George Moses said, “I'm heartbroken you don't like our map.” A key point of contention between the two sides: GOP commissioners said the Democratic plan creates too many districts that aren't connected by highways, a new requirement that lawmakers have imposed since the last redistricting a decade ago. Moses responded by showing a map, demonstrating that half the counties in the state aren't connected by highways to the adjoining counties. “This is over half the land mass of Idaho,” he said. “This statute will require that you divide counties in order to comply with it - that is on its face unconstitutional.”

Co-Chairman Evan Frasure noted that laws are presumed constitutional until courts declare otherwise, so the commission still must comply with the road law. Esposito said, “I guess we're well aware of the adage about roads and good intentions. But I believe we can actually accomplish the task put before us with a minimum number of county splits - maybe not six.” That's the number of counties divided in L-28 plan. Esposito said he'd “like to get to work” on his new plan, hinting it could be a compromise to which all sides could agree. With that he asked that the commission adjourn until 10 a.m. tomorrow, and it did; tomorrow, commissioners likely will review legislative district plans submitted by the public. The panel will meet through Wednesday this week, not longer, to follow it's already-noticed schedule and comply with the Idaho Open Meeting Law; on Wednesday, it'll decide how many days it will meet next week.

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Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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