November 23, 2011 in Idaho

Second lawsuit could challenge Idaho district plan

By The Spokesman-Review
 

BOISE - Seven North Idaho counties are planning a second lawsuit to challenge Idaho’s new legislative redistricting plan.

“These northern counties want to make sure that their interests are represented, and their interests may diverge somewhat from the Twin Falls petition,” said attorney Christ Troupis.

Troupis is working with Bonner, Boundary, Benewah, Lewis, Idaho, Shoshone and Clearwater counties on the legal challenge; he’s expecting formal approval from them to launch the challenge next Tuesday.

The Lewiston Tribune reported today that Idaho County commissioners voted Tuesday to join the lawsuit, and the others either are on board are considering it.

Already pending at the Idaho Supreme Court is a challenge to the legislative district plan filed by Twin Falls County, with backing from Kootenai, Owyhee and Teton counties and several cities in Twin Falls County.

That challenge includes a proposed new legislative district map for the state that splits fewer counties, just six instead of the 11 divided in the district plan approved by Idaho’s bipartisan citizen redistricting commission.

Troupis said the group of northern counties likes that petition’s arguments that the new plan is unconstitutional, but favors a different new map; it likes the North Idaho portion of L-82, a map submitted earlier by GOP redistricting commissioners Lorna Finman, Evan Frasure and Lou Esposito. They were members of Idaho’s first six-member redistricting commission this year, which failed to reach agreement by its Sept. 6 deadline; a new commission then was appointed, which adopted Plan L-87.

Troupis said both the Twin Falls court proposal and L-87 create problems in North Idaho by creating at least one district that’s just too large. That district, which is District 7 in L-87 and District 3 in the Twin Falls plan, includes all of Shoshone, Clearwater and Idaho counties, along with part of another county.

“It would take six or seven hours for a representative living in Idaho County to get up to Shoshone County,” Troupis said. “There’s no road connecting them, and trying to have one person represent all three of those counties is just, it’s abominable.”

Plan L-87 pairs a 5,000-person chunk of Kootenai County with that district; the Twin Falls plan pairs a large slice of southern Bonner County with it.

Plan L-82, like L-87, divides 11 counties.

“They would prefer to have a plan that doesn’t necessarily split the least number of counties, but effectively and appropriately represents the interests of all of its citizens and makes sure that nobody’s disenfranchised,” Troupis said, “and to do that , you have to split some counties.”

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