Wyoming's Redistricting News


 Billings Gazette: "Redistrict bill enacted without Geringer O.K." March 6, 2002
 Billings Gazette: "Only 1 senator must face extra election." February 26, 2002
 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Senators may have to run again." February 19, 2002
 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Lawmakers adjust redistricting bill." February 13, 2002
 Casper Star Tribune: "Author talks Wyoming electoral history." February 9, 2003
 Billings Gazette: "Western districts could face big change." January 9, 2002
 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Still Questions on Redistricting." November 16, 2001
 Billings Gazette: "Geringer to Call Special Session." November 1, 2001
 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle : "Redistricting plan not popular." August 26, 2001
 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Proportional representation bandied about at meeting." June 20, 2001
 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Committee Oks redistricting guidelines." May 15, 2001
 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Cheyenne reps face district changes." May 15, 2001

 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Remapping Wyoming politics: Redraw could cost Sen. Mocklerís seat." May 14, 2001
 
Wyoming Tribune-Eagle: "Several factors to be considered in redistricting." April 4, 2001

Billings Gazette
Redistrict bill enacted without Geringer OK
By Associated Press
March 6, 2002

Gov. Jim Geringer let a redistricting bill become law Tuesday without signing it, a display of his "personal unease" about the changes made.

The bill will redraw legislative voting districts to conform with population shifts identified by the 2000 census. It was the first bill to be passed by the Legislature and sent to the governor's desk.

Geringer said the new districts do not encompass areas of common interest.

"You no longer have that sense of place or even a community," he said.

He has "very personal" feelings about the way Platte County was "chopped up," he said. Geringer is from Wheatland, the seat of Platte County.

He said he understands the lines were drawn partly to protect the constitutional right of "one person, one vote."

The Senate and the House districts used to be drawn according to county lines but a lawsuit in 1991 forced the Legislature to abandon that system.

"I know I've got to do it, but I don't feel that good about it," Geringer said.

Meanwhile, Geringer said he supports a bill to create the Wildlife Legacy Trust Fund. Interest from the $27 million fund would be spent improving wildlife habitat, especially for threatened and endangered species. It would also be spent reducing human-wildlife conflicts and paying for property damage that results from trophy game animals.

Wildlife protection is in the public's interest and there is national interest in how Wyoming protects its wildlife, Geringer said.

The fund would be created by adding $10 million in school construction money to $17 million in existing Wyoming Game and Fish Department trust funds. Only the interest could be spent.

Billings Gazette
Only 1 senator must face extra election
By Associated Press
February 26, 2002

Senators on Monday rejected an amendment to the redistricting bill that would have required elections for all 30 Senate seats this year.

Normally in an election year only 15 Senate seats are open, but this year's redrawing of legislative boundaries based on the 2000 Census has raised questions about fairness.

On Monday, the Senate changed the proposed amendment so that only Sen. Mark Harris, D-Green River, would be faced with an election in the middle of his four-year term.

The amendment was based on the percentage of new voters in a district. Harris' Senate District 14 has close to 60 percent new voters.

Some senators were concerned about the constitutionality of only having one senator run in the middle of his term when 12 of the other 14 senators who would not face elections also had changes made to their districts.

Monday was the first day the Senate as a whole considered the House redistricting plan. The Senate accepted changes to the bill made by the Senate Corporations Committee, which eliminated two of three amendments made by the House.

However, the Senate as a whole did not accept numbering changes the Senate committee suggested. The changes would have numbered each of the two House districts within each Senate district with the Senate district's number plus an A or B.

The Senate passed an amendment from Sen. Grant Larson, R-Jackson, which would change how the House and Senate districts were set up in Teton County.

Before the Larson amendment, the bill would have put Jackson in one House district and the rest of Teton County in another.

Under Larson's amendment, Jackson would be split between two House districts. Half of Jackson would be included with most of rural Teton County and part of Fremont County, including Dubois. The other half of the town would be grouped with the rest of rural Teton County.

Larson said he introduced the amendment because Teton County officials have expressed concern about a city-county split if Jackson were its own district.

"This is not about going after any particular political party," said Larson. He was responding to criticism that his amendment was brought forward to stop the town from electing a Democrat.

The Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Delaine Roberts, R-Etna, who tried to change district boundaries to keep Lincoln and Sublette counties intact.

Larson said Roberts' amendment would have grouped different communities of interest and would also have made districts that were too large. One of the districts would have been 170 miles long from north to south.

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Senators may have to run again
By Joanne Bowlby
February 19, 2002

All 30 state senators would run for office again this year under an amendment to the redistricting bill approved by the Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Monday.

ìItís the attorney generalís opinion that we should all run,î Sen. Mark Harris, D-Green River, said.

All senators hold four-year terms. The Senate has staggered terms, so half of its members are new every two years. Redistricting throws a wrench in the system.

Itís a process undertaken once every 10 years that redraws political districts based on U.S. Census population reports. Since political boundaries shift, many people think a newly created district should have a voice in its legislative delegation.

Harris proposed an amendment to House Bill 75 that would call for a straw to be drawn, determining if senators from even- or odd-numbered districts would run for a two-year term instead of the usual four-year term.

Democratic Casper Sen. Keith Goodenough said the process is too random. He said under Harrisí proposal some senators might end up with six-year terms, and others might be limited to two- or four-year terms.

ìTwo years ago, 15 of us ran for a four-year term,î he said. ìIf weíre going to truncate to serve two-year terms, why not spread the damage over the entire group rather than affecting some twice as much?î

Goodenough said senators limited to two years by the redistricting-prompted re-election should be allowed to run for a four-year term, and senators ending their fourth year in office this year should be limited to a two-year run.

But, in the end, Harrisí drawing of straws proposal won. The committee voted 3 to 2 in support of Harrisí plan, with Goodenough and Sen. John Hanes, R-Cheyenne, voting against the amendment.

The overall redistricting bill was revamped to kill all changes made by the House of Representatives last week with the exception of one change to an area in the western part of the state.

It passed out of committee on unanimous approval. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for more debate this week.

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Lawmakers adjust redistricting bill
By Chris George
February 13, 2002

In the first day of debate in the House of Representatives on the stateís redistricting plan, lawmakers sought to make minor changes to the bill.

Lawmakers passed House Bill 75 on first reading Tuesday after a lengthy explanation.

Members killed a proposal to return House Districts 3 and 5 to their current shapes.

The district border now runs east to west through Platte and Goshen Counties. The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee proposal would run that line north and south through those counties.

State Rep. Bill Stafford, R-Chugwater, asked the House to keep the original lines. His District 3 is affected by the change as is the District 5 seat of state Rep. Jim Hageman, R-Ft. Laramie.

The panel also passed an amendment from state Reps. Bubba Shivler, R-Jackson, and Clarene Law, R-Jackson. It takes Jackson out of a doughnut formation (Jackson is surrounded by another House district) and puts Rafter J into the same district as most of Jackson, 17B.

The tiny town of Wilson would go from Lawís district, 17B, into Shivlerís 16B. It creates a new district, 17A, which looks something like a moose head. It would have the Pines, Teton Village, the Kelly and Moose areas.

Teton County grew from 11,172 in 1990 to 18,251 in 2000, necessitating a new House district.

The bill redraws Senate and House districts throughout the state using Census 2000 data.

Among the changes to the bill are a redrawing of districts in Teton County and southwest Wyomingís districts to accommodate an influx of people into Teton County and a substantial undercount in the 1990 census.

Laramie Countyís northwestern corner, represented by Rep. Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, was redrawn slightly, pushing Rossí district further away from Cheyenne. That area experienced substantial growth in the past decade.

HB75 hit the floor of the House of Representatives in a much different atmosphere than the redistricting bill 10 years ago.

Then, the debate was furious and personal as lawmakers ditched a county-based system in favor of a one-man, one vote, disregarding county boundaries in favor of districts of nearly equal population.

On Tuesday lawmakers applauded when the bill passed on a voice vote. It has two more readings before passing out of the House and into the Senate.

Earlier, the House Appropriations Committee stripped $250,000 out of the bill. The full House approved that later.

The money was in HB75 to pay for legal challenges to the redistricting plan. Panel members said the attorney generalís budget is $44 million, which should contain funds to defend redistricting if there is a dispute.

Casper Star Tribune
Author talks Wyoming electoral history
By Matthew Van Dusen
February 9, 2003

Matilda Hansen displayed the extensive knowledge she gained over 20 years as a Democratic member of the Wyoming House of Representatives in a talk at the Casper Petroleum Club Saturday.

Democratic Women's Forum emcee Mako Miller introduced Hansen, the former chairwoman of the Wyoming State Democratic Party, as the "the burr on so many saddles." Miller then took the microphone, yanked on the cord to give her some room to wander and dove into the topics of her book, "Clear Use of Power: A Slice of Wyoming Political History."

Hansen described the book as a "whodunnit and whodidn't-dunnit" in the politics of redistricting the state for legislative representation. The thrust of her book is that the northern rural counties of the state resisted redistricting the state for some time to prevent the Democratic southern counties from gaining power.

On Saturday, Hansen outlined the roots of Wyoming's own north-south antagonism, which began when Wyoming was part of the Dakota Territory in 1864. A Cheyenne lawyer made his way to the Dakota Legislature, but a miner from South Pass City in Fremont County beat him there and took the seat.

Through the years, northern counties continued to compete with the south for control of the government, even though the counties had fewer people, she said. The north gained its power from "a symbiotic relationship between minerals and agriculture," Hansen added.

Hansen noted she was giving a full political history of the interests Sam Western identified in his book "Pushed Off the Mountain, Sold Down the River." She said the conclusions in her book were similar to Western's belief that entrenched agricultural and mineral interests have kept Wyoming from growing.

Landowners got royalties from companies digging for oil and ore on their lands and didn't want to allow southern counties to tax them or raise wages in the state. The banks and the insurance companies shared these interests and the four groups formed "a power circle" and provided strength for the Wyoming Republican Party.

Through the years and after many court battles, this power base worked to keep Wyoming from adopting a one-person-one-vote system.

By the early 1990s, decades after the other states had adopted representation in proportion to population, Wyoming finally abandoned the county-based election districts that allowed population-poor counties to be representative-rich.

Still, she said, the Republican elite has been able to retain control of the Legislature through "stacking and fracturing," a process of drawing district lines to ensure Democratic voters in counties such as Teton and Sheridan cannot build an electoral base.

An audience member asked what will happen in the next reapportionment of districts.

"What I'd like my book to do is make the people drawing the lines more nervous," she said.

Billings Gazette
Western districts could face big change
By Associated Press
January 9, 2002

A redistricting plan to be considered by the Legislature next month would give Jackson Hole an additional senator and put two Sweetwater County senators in the same district.

Donít expect a game of musical chairs, however, between Sen. Mark Harris, R-Green River, and Sen. Tex Boggs, D-Rock Springs. Boggs, whose term expires at the end of the year, said Tuesday that Harris deserves to be the districtís lone senator if the Legislature gives him the seat.

ìUnless all 30 senators run, it would appear that Sen. Harris would continue in that position,î Boggs said. ìThatís certainly appropriate because Sen. Harris was elected for two more years.î

The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee worked nearly a year on the redistricting bill, which as written would significantly alter Senate and House districts across the state.

The biggest proposed change, the one involving Boggs and Harris, has to do with Boggsí Senate District 13, which stretches between Rock Springs and Green River and includes parts of both cities. The proposed new SD 13 would include Harrisí home.

To the north, the boundary between SD 16, the district of Sen. Delaine Roberts, R-Etna, would shift north into SD 17, the territory of Sen. Grant Larson, R-Jackson. The proposed boundary would bisect the Jackson area.

Meanwhile, SD 17 would shrink to the east and would no longer wrap around both sides of the Wind River Range, from Pinedale to the north side of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

While western Wyoming would easily have the most legislative boundary changes under the proposed legislation, hardly a district in the state would be unaffected.

ìSouth and east didnít grow very fast, and north and west did, and that caused ripples across the state,î said Rep. Dave Edwards, R-Douglas.

Additionally, House districts would be renumbered. The two House districts in each Senate district would be given that districtís number plus an ìAî or ìB.î

Edwards, a member of the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, said he and the other committee members traveled across Wyoming gathering opinions about how the districts should be redrawn based on the 2000 Census.

The task of redrawing voting districts is required by the state constitution after the census, which is every 10 years. Each House district ideally would include 8,200 residents and each Senate district would contain 16,400 residents.

ìAlthough there are some people who are not particularly happy with their individual part of the pie, as you will, we really received far more agreeable comments than disagreeing,î he said.

ìI think we did a good job.î

What changes the Legislature might make is anyoneís guess, but a hefty amount of debate and proposed changes is almost certain. Rep. Fred Parady, R-Rock Springs, Larson and Rep. Randall Luthi, R-Freedom, have drafted an alternative to the proposal for Sweetwater Countyís legislative districts.

Also, while the committee voted Friday not to call for elections for all Senate districts this fall, such a proposal could still be introduced, according to committee member Rep. Tony Ross, R-Laramie.

ìUltimately, we will have to make that decision again,î he said.

Ross said it would be best to hold elections for all Senate districts this year and ensure that everyone is represented, even though that would require more campaign spending for senators elected just two years ago.

Rep. Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne, feels differently.

ìItís an expense to have people run,î he said. ìTheyíve run before. I have to run every two years, but I have a soft spot in my heart for senators who have to run two years after they just ran.î

Whatever happens ñ and even if the issue requires an extended legislative session ñ the debate over redistricting is unlikely to be as grueling as 10 years ago, the last time legislative boundaries were redrawn. In 1991, Supreme Court threw out Wyomingís system of basing legislative districts on county lines, saying it gave proportionally more representation to residents of the least populous counties.

One of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, Sarah Gorin, now works for the Equality State Policy Center watchdog group. Gorin and others with the organization have been closely watching redistricting this time around.

ìWe support the committeeís consensus plan and generally feel theyíve done a good job soliciting public input,î she said.

Gorin praised the committeeís use of new mapping software to help redistricting. ìEverybody was worried about how it work,î she said. ìI think they did a nice job of planning ahead and utilizing the technology and making sure everybody got heard.î

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Still Questions on Redistricting
By Chris George
November 16, 2001

State Sen. John Hanes said Thursday he doesn't think Gov. Jim Geringer's support for multi-member legislative districts will submarine a single-member district plan.

"I don't think that's going to make much difference," said Hanes, R-Cheyenne.

Hanes and state Rep. Wayne Johnson, R-Cheyenne, spoke Thursday night to about 10 members of the American Association of University Women about the Legislature's efforts at redistricting, which have been going on since the spring. Hanes said the governor probably wouldn't veto a plan that works, even if it avoids multi-member districts.

Single-member districts are districts that are represented by a single House member and a single senate member. Multi-member districts are represented by more than one senator and more than one representative.

Geringer has said he'd like to see more multi-member districts because he thinks it would encourage more people to run.

During the state's latest round of redistricting, informed by the 2000 Census, Laramie County lawmakers have made their opposition to multi-member districts known -- four sit on the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee, which is drafting a redistricting plan.

Thursday night, Johnson said he couldn't walk his district if he had to walk a major portion of the county. He said it takes him four months to walk the district he has.

Hanes said he couldn't afford to print his newsletter at the end of every session if it had to go to the whole county. But he also said there might be significant support for multi-member districts in the Legislature.

The committee chairs have already said there probably isn't enough support on the committee to pass a multi-member plan, though individually sponsored plans may surface.

When former Wyoming Sen. Harriett "Liz" Byrd last ran for office, she said her district was all of Laramie County. She couldn't walk her district like Johnson. She said Thursday she had to have help to get to the county residents.

Byrd ran before redistricting, when the state still had multi-member districts.

Hanes and Johnson both said races would be more expensive if candidates had to cover more ground.

Elizabeth Phelan said that money kept a lot of people out of politics now.

"We're not getting the good people because it's too darned expensive," she said.

 

Billings Gazette
Geringer to Call Special Session
November 1, 2001

Gov. Jim Geringer said he would call a special session next February so that the Legislature can tackle school financing, legislative redistricting and the state budget.

ìAny one of those could take up a full session,î Geringer said.

The Legislatureís regular 2002 budget session is set to convene Feb. 11. However, it is limited to 23 days.

A special session, which only the governor can call, has no time limit.

ìThat then gives them the ability to operate without the traditional restraints of a budget session,î Geringer said Tuesday.

The Legislature likely will convene in regular session, recess and then go into a special session, Geringer said.

The governor said he expects lawmakers to adopt rules for the special session requiring a two-thirds vote on all nonbudget bills, similar to the rules of a budget session.

But Geringer also said he hopes lawmakers will adopt exceptions to that rule, including redistricting and certain school finance bills.

Dropping the bar for introduction from two-thirds to a simple majority makes it easier to get those bills into the Legislature for discussion, particularly if there is significant resistance to any of them, he said.

He said he does not anticipate resistance to any of the big bills.

The special session would leave the Legislature with 23 unused days of meeting time. Lawmakers could call themselves back into session any time after the special session ends, though Geringer said he doesnít expect them to do that.

ìThe extra time on their hands is probably not going to be abused,î Geringer said.

He said he is not sure how long the special session will last. He said legislative leadership is hoping to finish by mid-March.

On redistricting, Geringer said he would not mind seeing some form of multimember districts in order to encourage more people to run for office.

ìThe idea of one person, one vote and restricting people to very specific House districts has actually deterred people from running,î he said.

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Redistricting plan not popular
By Chris George
August 26, 2001

Several members of the Laramie County legislative delegation really don't like multi-member districts.

One of the four redistricting plans proposed at the Wednesday meeting of the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee would reduce the number of Senate districts in the county from five to three. Two of the remaining three districts would then become multi-member districts, with two senators representing the same area. The committee has said it wants nested House districts - meaning there would be two House districts for each Senate district or four House districts for each multi-member Senate district.

State Sen. Rich Cathcart, D-Carpenter, opposed multi-member districts and said he thought judges would, too.

"I don't think the court will buy that," Cathcart said.

Cathcart was referring to a 1991 federal court decision striking down a Wyoming redistricting plan with multi-member districts. The court said multi-member districts had practical problems like voter confusion, remoteness from voters and reduced voter participation. If the court had to design the state's legislative districts, they would be single-member districts, the court said.

Cathcart said if voters had to pick two senators and four representatives, they often wouldn't know exactly who was representing them. And under a multi-member system, it's possible all the legislators in a district could live on the same block, the senator said. With single-member districts, voters might be frustrated because they can't vote for a candidate they like who lives outside of their district, but they're not confused about who represents them, Cathcart said.

At Wednesday's meeting in Jackson, four basic plans were offered:

- Committee co-chairman state Rep. John Hines, R-Gillette, presented a plan that kept Laramie County's five Senate districts intact.

- Committee chairman state Sen. Tom Kinnison, R-Sheridan, offered a plan that redrew the boundaries in Hines' plan slightly.

- Kinnison also offered a plan for multi-member districts that would shrink the number of Senate districts in Laramie County from five to three; two would have two senators (and likely four House members) apiece.

- Rep. Del McOmie, R-Lander, a committee member, offered a redistricting plan that focused on House districts before dealing with Senate districts.

Sen. John Hanes, R-Cheyenne, said he didn't like multi-member districts, either.

"I don't think a multi-member district would have much support among the Laramie County delegation," Hines said. With single-member districts, voters know who to talk with, Hines said.

"A senator or representative would run in his own neighborhood and develop a relationship with his constituents," Hines said. McOmie's plan was the hard way to go, the senator said. Hines' and Kinnison's plan to start with the Senate districts and draw the House districts afterward seemed like much less work, Hanes said.

Rep. Mac McGraw, D-Cheyenne, said he also opposed multi-member districts. Candidates would have to reach twice to four times as many voters as they would with single-member districts.

"I'm not sure that's fair," McGraw said.

Lawmakers are aiming to have a plan ready for the 2002 Budget Session, which starts Feb. 11. The committee will meet several more times to work out the kinks before that date.


Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Proportional representation bandied about at meeting
By: Chris George
June 20, 2001

Note: the definition of 'proportional representation' in this article is different from how the Center for Voting and Democracy and political scientists define the term. Proportional representation describes systems in which like-minded groupings of voters can win seats in proportion to their strength in the electorate."

When it comes to legislative redistricting, one person, one vote doesn't necessarily mean an equal number of electors per representative.

It could mean proportional representation, said a father-daughter team at the Cheyenne redistricting meeting Tuesday evening in the Laramie County Commission hearing room.

Roughly 40 people turned out for the hearing, which lasted a half-hour less than the two hours that had been scheduled.

Lois and Jack VanMark, both of Goshen County, suggested the Legislature's Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee take a look at assigning representatives all or part of a vote based on the population of their counties.

That way, the state could have representatives in each county, rather than have representatives cross county lines.

For instance, in Niobrara County, the smallest in the state, one representative would represent 2,499 people and in Laramie County, each representative would represent 8,126.89 people, using 1990 Census data.

To determine the number of representatives per county, they divided the population by 8,000. For senators, they divided by 24,000.

No county got less than one representative, but on the floor of the House, some representatives would have less than one vote, the VanMarks said.

When it comes to committees, each representative would go back to one vote, Lois VanMark said.

The VanMark concept produces a 28-member Senate and 59-member House, which fits the Wyoming Constitution's requirement that the ratio of representatives to senators not be less than 2-to-1 and not more than 3-to-1. Currently there are 30 senators and 60 representatives.

Rep. Roger Huckfeldt, R-Torrington, said the state constitution requires that each county have at least one representative and one senator.

Committee members said federal courts have told the state to ignore that part of the state constitution.

Also at the meeting, Glen Lang, an attorney with the Legislative Service Office, said multi-member districts aren't unconstitutional, but courts have frowned on the concept.

Multi-member districts are districts in which more than one elected official represents the same geographic area.

Courts have said multi-member districts might create voter confusion, may reduce voter participation and could submerge electoral minorities while amplifying electoral majorities, among other problems.

Rep. Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne, said that places like Carpenter and Pine Bluffs in the eastern section of the county had a hard time finding representation.

The committee also reiterated its principles of redistricting - or redrawing districts based on 2000 census figures - which Cheyenne resident Marguerite Herman said she found encouraging.

"I hope you'll live up to your principles," Herman said. "And keep it simple, so we can understand it."

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Committee Oks redistricting guidelines
By: Chris George
May 15, 2001

The committee overseeing legislative redistricting has signed off on a series of principles intended to guide discussion on the subject over the next few months.

The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee approved a draft of the principles Monday. The draft will guide, but is not intended to limit, public hearings throughout the state on redistricting over the summer and fall.

The principles are:

-Election districts should be contiguous, compact and reflect a community of interest.

-Population of election districts should be substantially equal, with the range of deviation not to exceed 10 percent.
To the greatest extent possible, in establishing election districts:

-County boundaries should be followed.

-The majority of the population of each county should be in one district.

-Census blocks should be followed.

-The plan should avoid diluting voting power of minorities in violation of the Voting Rights Act.

-The size of the Senate should be 30 members; the size of the House should be 60 members.

-Consideration should be given to putting two contiguous House districts within one Senate district.

-Significant geographical features should be considered in establishing districts.

-Consideration of the residence of current legislators should be avoided.

Lawmakers deleted a ninth principle, which would have asked lawmakers to consider single- and multi-member districts.

Rep. Roger Huckfeldt, R-Torrington, asked the committee to define a community of interest.

Committee chairman Sen. Tom Kinnison, R-Sheridan, said it could mean communities organized around economic, geographic and ethnic interests. Public input on the subject should help clarify the meaning, he said.

The current system has produced irritating circumstances that Kinnison said he hoped to rectify. His neighbor across the street could not vote in Kinnison's district.

On population deviation, the courts have allowed states to keep plans in which the most-populated district and the least-populated district don't vary from an ideal number by more than 5 percent. In Wyoming's case, the ideal House district has 8,230 residents and the ideal Senate district has 16,459.

But members said case law allowed the state to move the variation to, for example, 7 percent above and 3 percent below.

A Legislative Service Office attorney said should the state stray from the 5 percent above and below range and get challenged in court, the state would have to explain to a judge why it did so. If it stayed within the range, the court would presume the plan was constitutional.

Although several lawmakers wanted to move to the 5 percent above or below standard, Kinnison argued that would prematurely limit the committee.

"It looks like we're taking away some of the leeway we may need later on," Kinnison said. The 10 percent principle passed 8-6.

The committee stiffened language keeping the Senate to 30 members and the House to 60 members. Before it was amended, the principle read, "Size of each house should remain approximately the same."

After much discussion, foreshadowing controversy likely to erupt over the summer, the committee killed off any mention of single- vs. multi-member districts in its principles.

A multi-member district is a district represented by more than one Senate or House member.

The principle was first amended, by an 8-6 vote, to remove mention of multi-member districts. The committee then voted 8-6 to kill the principle altogether.

Kinnison and Sen. Mark Harris, D-Green River, argued the principle should be left in for discussion's sake.

"I think an important part of this process is seeing what the people want," Harris said.

Sen. Keith Goodenough, D-Casper, said discussion of multi-member districts would get the committee off in the wrong direction.

"When you start on a long journey, it's important to start in the right direction," Goodenough said.

Gov. Mike Sullivan vetoed a plan with multi-member districts in 1992. The Legislature then designed districts with single members.

Although the committee voted to try to ignore the residences of current members, the LSO is currently working on a map of their current addresses.

The committee took public comment for about a half-hour before lunch Monday.

Former state Sen. John Patton said coming up with a list of principles as firmly worded as it was may discourage public participation.

"You've placed the public in the position of suggesting you make a change," Patton said. "Sometimes it's pretty intimidating."

Jack Pugh of Sweetwater County said that Senate District 12, which covers parts of Sweetwater, Fremont and Carbon counties, leaves voters there feeling like
they're out of the process.

Talking to people there, he found "a really deep-seated resentment of that condition," he said. "They feel really disenfranchised, and I think they are."

He asked them to stay open to the idea of multi-member districts.

Kinnison also announced a part of the state's information on redistricting would be kept on a Web site that required a password. He then ordered staff not to give out the password publicly.

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Cheyenne reps face district changes
By: Chris George
May 15, 2001

Most of Cheyenne's representatives, but none of its senators, have district populations above or below the limits set by federal courts.

Seven representatives' districts are more than 5 percent above or below their ideal population of 8,230. All of the Laramie County Senate districts' populations are within the limits.

The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee met Monday and released district and variation numbers. Districts with variations above or below 5 percent of the ideal may get redrawn to bring them within the range.

The ideal population is the state's total population, 493,782, divided by 60 for House districts and divided by 30 for Senate districts. The Senate ideal is 16,459.

It is the target population for every district, although courts will allow states to vary the population 5 percent up or down.
Rep. Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, leads the pack in terms of variation.

His House District 7, which stretches north to the Platte County line, east to the Laramie County School District 1 border, west to the Albany County line and south to Interstate 80, is 17.24 percent, or 1,419 people, over the ideal population.

Ross said his district, which includes Horse Creek Road, saw a lot of people move into ranchettes in the last 10 years.

Rep. Mac McGraw, D-Cheyenne, saw his House District 41 come in 9.56 percent, or 787 people, below the ideal. His district is close to the middle of Cheyenne.

The district will probably have to be redrawn, he said.

"I think the population is in the north and east," he said.

Rep. Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne, saw his House District 42 come in 6.72 percent, or 553 people, above the ideal. His district covers the southwestern corner of Laramie County, including Happy Jack Road. His district runs south to the Colorado border and west to Albany County.

"I think there are some districts we need to take a look at," Illoway said. "I'd like to square things off a bit. We ought to try to make things a little bit easier."

Right behind Ross in variation is Rep. Larry Meuli, R-Cheyenne, whose House District 8 went in the opposite direction, falling 15.83 percent, or 1,303 people, behind the ideal.

Rep. Rodney "Pete" Anderson, R-Pine Bluffs, has a district, House District 10, that is 9.37 percent, or 771 people, above the ideal.

Rep. Wayne Reese, D-Cheyenne, is in House District 11. His district is 12.21 percent, or 1,005 people, below the ideal.

Should the redistricting plan the committee is developing be challenged in court, if the district with the most people is not more than 5 percent above the ideal, and the district with the least people is not 5 percent below, the court will presume the plan is constitutional, said a Legislative Service Office attorney.

If the variation should go beyond 5 percent in either direction, then the state would have to prove there was a compelling reason for the variation, the attorney said.

Those districts with a variation above 5 percent may get redrawn to avoid a lawsuit.

But the committee Monday passed a draft resolution saying it would like a total of 10 percent variation, meaning the variation could, for example, be 7 percent above and 3 percent below, or 10 percent above and zero below.

The recommendation is subject to public comment.

Statewide, there were nine state Senate districts with deviation above or below 5 percent, including Senate District 17 in Teton, Fremont and Sublette counties, which was 41.83 percent, or 6,884 people, over the ideal.

There were 33 House districts outside the range, including House District 23 in Teton County, which was 51.15 percent over the ideal.

 

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Remapping Wyoming politics: Redraw could cost Sen. Mocklerís seat
By: Chris George
May 14, 2001

All they have to do is move state Sen. Jayne Mocklerís district line one block.

Mockler, D-Cheyenne, lives that close to the line on a map that separates her from the district represented by state Sen. John Hanes, R-Cheyenne.

If lawmakers overseeing redistricting this year move the line one block to the south, Mockler goes from being in a predominantly Democratic district to a Republican stronghold.

Mockler is registered at 1010 Randall Ave. No. 1, about a block from West Pershing Boulevard, which is part of the boundary between her Senate District 8 and Hanesí District 5.

If the boundary line is moved, Mockler may have to run against Hanes. If that happens, she doesnít think she has a chance.

"Do you get rid of me by moving the district line a block?" she asked.

As the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee prepares to meet Monday in Casper to go over redistricting, Mockler faces a big question: How will the majority Republicans treat the minority Democrats?

Part of political process

Unfortunately for Mockler and any other lawmaker vulnerable to being moved out of a district where theyíve been successful, the U.S. Supreme Court has said partisan gerrymandering ñ drawing lines to favor one political party or another ñ is simply part of the political process.

You canít sue successfully to stop the majority party from drawing lines to solidify its majority, attorney and former Wyoming Democratic Party head Steve Freudenthal said.

"Basically, the court allows that setting legislative districts is a political process," he said. "It is expected that the party with the majority will attempt to maximize its advantage. That, in and of itself, is not illegal.

"They (the court) guarantee people have a right to vote and have their vote counted. They donít guarantee politicians a safe district."

Freudenthal defended Sarah Gorin in the 1991 case of Gorin v. Karpin, which established the stateís legislative districts as they are now along the ideal of one person, one vote.

The case, which ultimately was decided by a federal court of appeals, eliminated county-by-county representation and multi-member districts. It also established single-member districts.

Multi-member districts are represented by more than one legislator. Typically, they are drawn so one state senator and two state House members are in the same territory, but they can be drawn with several Senate or House members in the same space.

Mockler had slightly more registered Democrats in Senate District 8 (2,483) than Republicans (2,197) as of Feb. 15.

At the same time, Hanes had a huge majority of Republicans in his Senate District 5 ñ 2,036 registered Democrats and 4,090 registered Republicans, said Laramie County Clerk Debbye Lathrop.

But both won their most recent elections to the Senate overwhelmingly.

When Hanes last ran in 1998, he ran unopposed in the general election and won with 4,496 votes ñ 98.6 percent of those cast.

When Mockler ran in 2000, she took her district unopposed with 4,092 votes ñ 97.5 percent of the votes cast.

Most important number

Perhaps the most important number for redistricting purposes is the ideal population number. Thatís the population of the state, 493,782, divided by 30 ñ the number of senators.

That number is the target population for each district. But lawmakers may vary the population in districts by as much as 5 percent without explanation, Freudenthal said.

The 2000 Census for Wyoming put the ideal number for a Senate district at 16,459, said the Legislative Service Office.

Mocklerís and Hanesí districts are close to the ideal, with 15,992 in Mocklerís district and 15,710 in Hanesí district.

Running against Hanes isnít Mocklerís only option, Freudenthal said. Or the only option of any lawmaker faces with a battle over borders.

She could move.

She could protest loudly and often, said Sarah Gorin, who now is chairwoman of the board for the Equality State Policy Center.

"The best defense against gerrymandering is for the process of redistricting to be as public as possible," Gorin said.

Without a court of law behind her, the court of public opinion is Mocklerís best chance, Gorin said.

Mockler could lobby against moving the line. Thereís no guarantee Hanes wants to run against her, particularly because of her showing in the last election, Freudenthal said.

It would be a spirited race, Hanes said.

"Sheís a very effective campaigner and a very knowledgeable legislator," he said. "Itíd be a tough race."

Hanes said Mockler is worrying too soon.

"I just canít foresee any rampant gerrymandering," he said.

But he added that he would like to see the county solve a problem in his district: His Little America precinct has three people in it.

"It kind of destroys the secret ballot," Hanes said.

Issuing the battle cry

Mockler has started the protest.

"If every 10 years you just draw the lines wherever the hell you want them, the people never have a sense of community," she said.

Speaker of the House Rick Tempest, R-Casper, said he didnít want to see partisanship over line-drawing.

"Iím not looking to gerrymander people out of their seats," he said. "To me, itís just trying to get fair districts that make sense."

He said he is aiming for a sense of community representation.

For example, state Sen. Rae Lynn Job, D-Rock Springs, has a district that covers Sweetwater, Freemont and Carbon counties.

That "doesnít make sense," Tempest said. He wants districts more connected to communities, he said. Software purchased by the Legislative Service Office should help, he said.

He said if he were in Mocklerís shoes as a minority member living close to a border, he would be concerned too.

But he said heís not looking to run Democrats out of the state.

"I really believe that a two-party system is a healthy thing for Wyoming," Tempest said.

If you go

The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee meeting will start at 8 a.m. Monday in the Oil and Gas Commission building at 777 W. First St., Casper.

If necessary, the committee will meet again Tuesday at 8 a.m.

An agenda for the meeting can be found at http://legisweb.state.wy.us.

Click on "Events & Schedules," click "May." Go to May 14 and click "Corp." The agenda link is in the page heading.

If youíd like to track the committeeís redistricting progress, that website is:

http://riesling.caliper.com/Maptitude/redist/wyoming

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
Several factors to be considered in redistricting
By: Ilene Olson
April 4, 2001

Wyoming officials predict this yearís redistricting process will be less divisive than the one 10 years ago ñ but not completely painless.

Using Census 2000 population figures released last week, the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee is poised to begin the process of redrawing boundary lines for Wyomingís 30 Senate and 60 House of Representatives districts.

"Right now, weíre looking at a lot of options," Dan Pauli, director of the Legislative Service Office, said. "Thereís a whole wide range out there."

Wyomingís last redistricting took place by court order after the 1990 census. At that time, boundaries for the state Senate and House of Representatives were changed from county-based representation to districts of nearly equal population, sometimes without regard for county lines.

"Last time was the first time that it was necessary to go to boundaries other than counties," said Rep. John Hines, R-Gillette, chairman of the Corporations Committee.

The committeeís April 12 meeting will focus primarily on gathering information and forming subcommittees, Hines said. Existing district lines will be compared to results from Census 2000 and other political boundaries, such as school and local election districts.

Meetings in May or June will involve county clerks and others with interests in and concerns with redistricting, Hines said.

The committee expects to have a final draft ready by the middle of September. A completed redistricting plan will be presented to the Legislature in February.

Hines said he doesnít expect as much debate over the process as occurred in 1991.

"At that time, we had a lot of legislators (who) lived close together," he said. "In many cases, they ended up in the same district. People that had worked together all of a sudden had to become opponents."

Pauli said heís heard that some legislators would like to see multi-member districts restored for more populous areas in Wyoming.

But "with 90 legislators having input on it, itís really going to be hard to say," he said. "Thereís some who think we should stay with 60 (representative)/30 (senate) seats."

Sen. Jayne Mockler, D-Cheyenne, said, "I think we need to be pretty careful when we do this. Itís probably the most political thing that any legislator in the country does, and weíre no exceptions."

During the last redistricting process, the number of seats in the Wyoming House of Representatives that were held by Democrats declined from 26 or 27 to 19, Mockler said.

"Thereís nothing illegal about that," she said. "You canít be accused of gerrymandering until youíve done it twice. You can do gerrymandering the second time around, but youíre going to get caught."

The redistricting process must take into consideration several factors, including how mandatory term limits beginning in 2004 will affect the redistricting efforts.

"Thatís a nightmare for us," Mockler said.

Mockler noted that moving a boundary for her district south from Pershing Boulevard to Randall Avenue would put her in the largely Republican district already served by Sen. John Hanes, R-Cheyenne.

"This year, I think you can protect an incumbentís seat," she added. "I donít think they would put two sitting senators in the same district."

The redistricting process will not be painless, Mockler said.

"There are people who ran (for office) who promised they would get their own county back in their seat for the Legislature," she said. "As this starts going along, youíre going to start having little pressure caps go off all over the state. Watch who blows their stack. Last time they did this, there were people who never spoke to each other again. There was a fist fight on the floor of the House one night."


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