Spin Control

WA Lege Day 18: Split the House districts?

OLYMPIA -- Splitting the legislative districts in half, so that a different state representative is elected in each half, would  increase the contacts with constituents, the sponsor of the plan said.

But it would also cut in half each voter's representation in the House, and could result in a more narrow focus for each member, Rep. Cary Condotta, R-East Wenatchee argued.

"If you divide these districts in half, you increase your contact with your constituents," Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said of his proposal, HB 1092. But each representative would still have the needs of the large community in mind, he added.

"Spokane is after a building that would be in Riverpoint, but all their representatives are going to be for that building because of the economic benefit it would have," he said. "I would think you would care about your region.

Dunshee had just come from a meeting with about 90 business and government leaders from Spokane and the surrounding area, where he'd been asked about the $70.8 million building for a new medical school in Spokane. He told them the project couldn't get on the proposed Capital Budget without Republican help.

Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Bellingham, whose district adjoins Dunshee's, said he "took offense" with Dunshee referring during his presentation to some rural portions of the districts as "banjo areas".

"A little humor doesn't hurt anything," Dunshee replied. "I repsesnt more rural people than you do  now."

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Jim Camden
Jim Camden is the Olympia bureau chief, covering the Legislature and state government. He also is a political columnist and blogger for Spin Control.

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