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Lawsuit challenges Idaho’s new legislative map

Northern counties oppose large district

BOISE – Seven northern Idaho counties are planning a lawsuit to challenge Idaho’s new legislative redistricting plan, which already faces one legal challenge.

“These northern counties want to make sure that their interests are represented, and their interests may diverge somewhat from the Twin Falls petition,” said Eagle, Idaho, 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 file the lawsuit on Tuesday.

The Lewiston Tribune reported Wednesday that Idaho County commissioners voted a day earlier to join the lawsuit, and the others are either on board or 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 redistricting commission.

Troupis said the group of northern counties likes the petition’s arguments that the new plan is unconstitutional, but not the alternative map proposed. Instead, it favors the northern Idaho portion of Plan 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, and it adopted Plan L-87.

Troupis said both the Twin Falls court proposal and L-87 create problems by creating at least one district that’s just too large. The district 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 … abominable.”

Plan L-87 places a 5,000-person portion of Kootenai County in the district; the Twin Falls plan includes a large slice of southern Bonner County.

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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