Columbus Lawmaker To Introduce Redistricting Bill

Representative Milo Smith plans to introduce a bill establishing an independent commission tasked with redrawing district lines for each census.

Republican state representative Milo Smith says he's concerned about communities divided by district lines.

Photo: Jashin Lin / WFIU

Republican state representative Milo Smith says he's concerned about communities divided by district lines.

Redistricting has been a contentious issue in Indiana for decades.

The state’s previous attempts at redistricting were marred by boycotts from legislators and accusations of partisan agendas from both Democrats and Republicans. In Indiana, the state constitution requires the General Assembly to draw legislative and congressional boundaries.

Two years after the most recent contentious redistricting round, Republican representative Milo Smith is planning to introduce a bill that will create an independent commission to draw district boundaries in the future.

“And it’s my intention that we do not divide communities, neighborhoods, or towns – if they’re small enough – to where they’re represented by more than one state representative or one senator. So I believe the independent commission would prohibit us from at least being accused of gerrymandering in the future.”

Smith didn’t discuss the details of how the commission would work. He did say the bill must remain compliant with the state constitution as lawmakers hash out the specifics.

Fort Wayne Democrat Phil GiaQuinta says he supports the concept of an independent commission. He says the current process causes the public to lose faith that the district maps are being drawn fairly.

“They were basically drawn behind closed doors. Again, Democrats did the same thing after the 2000 election and after the 1990 election. Republicans did the same thing after 1980. So it’s something that’s always been done in the past – the maps are drawn somewhere in an office, privately done by the majority party.”

GiaQuinta says his ideal commission would be politically balanced and have restrictions on political donations to its members.

Jashin Lin

Jashin Lin is a reporter/videographer for WFIU and WTIU news. She has previously worked as a videographer/web producer for MO.gov and as a reporter/videographer for the College of Engineering at the University of Missouri-Columbia. She studied multimedia journalism and information technology at the University of Missouri-Columbia. You can follow her on Twitter @jashinlin.

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