December 8, 2011 in Idaho

Another challenge to Idaho’s new districts filed

Northern counties object to being split
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Seven northern Idaho counties have filed their challenge to Idaho’s new legislative redistricting plan. The challenge 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.

However, any effort to bring back the first panel will be complicated by the fact that its co-chairman, 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 the plan adopted, 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, creating districts that are “oddly shaped” and unnecessarily dividing counties.

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. Denney also writes that 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 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, both former state lawmakers. The second panel was co-chaired by Democrat Ron Beitelspacher of Grangeville, and Republican Dolores Crow of Nampa, also former lawmakers.


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