Eye On Boise

New redistricting commission now won't be convened for two more weeks

Instead of next Monday, it now looks like a new Idaho redistricting commission won't be convened until Sept. 28th. Secretary of State Ben Ysursa had originally asked all the appointing authorities to get him new names by this Wednesday - tomorrow - so he could convene a new commission on Monday, but some said they couldn't act that quickly - and pointed out that the state Constitution gives them 15 days to make their appointments. “There were some legitimate concerns on timing, they couldn't get things done in time,” Ysursa said this morning. “So the law and the Constitution gives them 15 days, technically, from the date of the order.” He's working on an order with plans to get it out today. “I was trying to push it and expedite it, and they had some legitimate concerns. … This kind of caught all of us by surprise to do the new commission, so I took some of their concerns to heart. But I want to get things going.”

Jonathan Parker, Idaho Republican Party executive director, said last night, “We're going to act as quickly as we can with Chairman (Norm) Semanko's appointments to the commission, but the Constitution is very clear, we do have 15 days. We would like to expedite that, but that's a decision that Chairman Semanko is not going to take very lightly. We'll have to get our task force back online, ask them for further recommendations.”

Larry Grant, Idaho Democratic Party chairman, said, “We were scrambling around yesterday trying to find our people to get the names to him by Wednesday. Then we got a call from (deputy secretary of state) Tim (Hurst) yesterday afternoon saying they had changed their mind.” He said, “We're actively getting our commissioners in line now, so we'll be ready,” and added, “We had a full slate from last time that we could have used, so now we just have to go back and check people's availability.”

Meanwhile, former GOP Commissioner Lou Esposito said he and the other two GOP members of the redistricting commission that disbanded last week without reaching agreement on a plan, Evan Frasure and Lorna Finman, are “taking a serious look” at whether to challenge the Idaho Supreme Court's ruling that a new commission must be appointed. “We believe that there is a possible basis to petition the court to reconsider, and we'll probably have a decision on that by early next week,” Esposito said.

Grant, an attorney, said, “Our understanding is the commission is over. Those guys don't have any legal authority to do anything. … It's just not legally possible, I don't think.”

Ysursa, also an attorney, said, “The way I read the court order and the way the Attorney General read the court order and the state statute, it seemed pretty clear to us that a new commission is involved, but you know, people can challenge anything.” He said his main concern is to get the process completed in time to allow for Idaho's next election, which is coming up next spring. “The further on it gets into the year and starts approaching the calendar year, it's time to get a plan and get going,” Ysursa said.




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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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