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Eye On Boise

Fri., Sept. 2, 2011, 4:09 p.m.

GOP presents redistricting plan with just 5 county splits, but 2 of 3 won’t vote for it

GOP redistricting commissioners have presented their legislative district plan that splits only five counties; it's similar to the latest Democratic proposal for the northernmost eight counties, which split Bonner County vertically rather than horizontally, keeping Clark Fork whole; but makes changes in southern Idaho. Among them: Blaine County would be grouped with counties to its north and east, including Butte and Clark counties. Unlike earlier GOP plans, it would keep Ada County whole, rather than group part of east Boise with Boise County and points to the east.

However, after the meeting concluded, GOP Commissioners Lou Esposito and Lorna Finman said they wouldn't vote for that plan, L-66, unless a court told them they had to, to minimize county splits. "I think it's critical to show that you can do (a plan that splits only) five counties, but you look at the results of that - it's not anything that the people of the state should live with," Esposito said, saying it conflicts with public testimony the commission received and splits up communities of interest. "If the court comes back and says, 'That's what you need to do,' then I would vote for this plan," he said. Said Finman, "I think that was an exercise to see what could be done with a minimum split, if that is what the court's ruling (would support)." GOP Commissioner Evan Frasure, who wrote the plan, said he'd vote for it; it has a population deviation of 8.5 percent, well within the level presumed constitutional. It takes just four votes to adopt a new district plan, but other state laws require five votes from the six-member commission to split precincts - and this one splits 62 precincts.

The commission will be back at work tomorrow morning at 10. You can see the various proposals online here; as of the close of the meeting today, all plans through L-65 had been posted, and L-66 was in the works.

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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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