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New Idaho redistricting challenge calls for return of 1st commission

Wed., Dec. 7, 2011, 4:46 p.m.

Seven northern Idaho counties have filed their challenge to Idaho’s new legislative redistricting plan, and it criticizes the bipartisan citizen panel that wrote the plan this year and calls for the previous panel, which failed to agree on a plan by its deadline, to return.

Complicating matters, the co-chairman of the first panel, former state Rep. Allen Andersen of Pocatello, died last month.

The new challenge, filed by attorney Christ Troupis on behalf of Boundary, Bonner, Benewah, Shoshone, Clearwater, Idaho and Lewis counties, asks the high court to either adopt the North Idaho portion of plan L-82, a plan developed earlier by the GOP members of the first commission, or adopt earlier plan L-76, which splits just five counties.

The northern counties contend Idaho’s new plan, L-87, impermissibly connects Shoshone, Idaho and Clearwater counties without adequate road connections, and that other aspects of the plan would hurt the seven counties, including creating districts that are “oddly shaped,” unnecessarily dividing counties and more.

The new challenge also criticizes an earlier challenge filed by four other Idaho counties and led by Twin Falls County; it says that group’s proposed district plan also is inadequate.

Attached to the new challenge are two affidavits. One from House Speaker Lawerence Denney says he thinks the Idaho Supreme Court was wrong to order a second redistricting commission appointed this year, even though he appointed one of its members, and if a commission must still deliberate further, he wants it to be either the original commission or an entirely new one.

Another from Lou Esposito, a GOP member of the first redistricting commission, faults the plan reached by the second commission, charging that portions “appear to be gerrymandered” and that the plan, L-87, violates the state constitution and state law.

Idaho’s legislative and congressional district lines are redrawn every 10 years, after the census, by a six-member bipartisan citizen commission. This year’s first panel was co-chaired by Andersen and Republican Evan Frasure of Pocatello. The second panel was co-chaired by Democrat Ron Beitelspacher of Grangeville and Republican Dolores Crow of Nampa both, like Andersen and Frasure, former state lawmakers.

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Read the documents and comment here at Eye on Boise

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