OLYMPIA - A special commission charged with redrawing the congressional and legislative boundaries came up with four very different plans for each Tuesday. But each gives more attention to placing minority populations together in districts.
Three of the four congressional maps have “majority-minority” districts in which racial and ethnic minorities make up more than 50 percent of the population. The fourth has two districts where racial and ethnic minorities are more than 40 percent.
The maps also vary greatly on where to put the state’s new congressional district, awarded because of population growth recorded in the 2010 Census.
In adjusting the existing districts for that population growth, three commissioners keep Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District very close to its present boundaries, but one would draw its southern boundary at the Spokane County line. The proposals vary greatly on Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District, which has seen a greater population growth, as well as a rapid increase in Hispanic residents.
Minority rights advocates praised the commission for heeding calls for a majority-minority district. The commission will have its maps online later today, and will be accepting comments from the public for a month.
The four commissioners will study each others plans, and resume public hearings on the redistricting Oct. 11, with a goal of settling on a single map for congressional districts and a single map for legislative districts around Nov. 1.
Under state law, at least three of the four commissioners must agree to a single map for each set of districts, that is then submitted to the Legislature in January.