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Redistricters back at work…

Idaho's six citizen redistricting commissioners have been working straight through since 9 this morning, either in small working groups or as a full commission; they worked through lunch, while reviewing all seven of the plans that already have been submitted to the commission that have the minimum number of county splits - five. (The way the Idaho Supreme Court counted it, it's seven - five with external splits, and two, Ada and Kootenai, that must have internal splits due to their population, without any district lines crossing their borders.) The five that mathematically must be split are Bonner, Canyon, Twin, Bonneville and Bannock. The seven plans that meet that criteria include five submitted previously, and two new ones from Twin Falls County Prosecutor Grant Loebs and from Don Rosebrock; here, the commissioners look at the final two.

In North Idaho, the result is likely to include something similar to the previous big District 7 from Plan L-87, except instead of taking in a chunk of Kootenai County, the sprawling district likely would have to take the portion of Bonner County that doesn't join Boundary County in District 1. Asked if there's any way to avoid a district that runs from Bonner County all the way south to the southern Idaho County line, commission Co-Chairman Ron Beitelspacher said, “You'd have to talk to the Supreme Court justices.” He said, “My job's not to second-guess the Supreme Court, my job is to follow the law.” He added, “If you go to 30 districts (vs. the current 35), then there are some ways to have fewer counties split, but that's a big jump for those rural areas.”

After a short break, the commissioners are going to reconvene to go over the required county splits, then head back into small groups to draw district lines. They'll reconvene at 5 today to see what's next, but they've got meetings scheduled through next week. Said Beitelspacher, “We will not stop until we get this done.”


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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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