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History shows bipartisan compromise at Idaho’s redistricting commission…

Much attention has been focused on the fact that 10 years ago, when Idaho's first evenly-split bipartisan redistricting commission settled on a new legislative district plan, L-66, one Republican, former state Rep. Dean Haagenson of Coeur d'Alene, joined with three Democratic commissioners in the 4-2 vote. Less attention has been paid to the other action of the commission on that same date, Aug. 22, 2001, when it also adopted a congressional redistricting plan, C-15. That, too, was a 4-2 vote: There were two Republicans and two Democrats voting in favor, and one Republican and one Democrat voting against. That congressional plan stood up and wasn't challenged in court.

After the Idaho Supreme Court rejected the first legislative plan, L-66, which had a population deviation of 10.69 percent, the commission on Jan. 8, 2002, adopted plan L-91. This time, it was Democratic Commissioner Ray Givens of Coeur d'Alene who joined with the three Republican commissioners in the majority for a 4-2 vote. Plan L-91, however, was overturned by the court for two reasons: Impermissibly dividing counties, which the Idaho Constitution forbids; and too high a population deviation, at 11.79 percent.

Finally, On March 9, 2002, the commission adopted plan L-97, which had a population deviation of 9.71 percent, on a 5-1 vote - three Democrats and two Republicans supported it, with only GOP Co-Chair Kristi Sellers voting no. That plan was challenged in court, but upheld.

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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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