Indiana Senate Democrats propose redistricting restrictions

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INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers were back at the Statehouse for Organization Day Tuesday.

Lawmakers were sworn in and they had a chance to discuss agendas for next session in January.

They will be tasked with passing a budget, helping Hoosiers struggling from the pandemic and redistricting Indiana’s House, Senate and Congressional seats in 2021.

Some believe redistricting should be first on the agenda come January. That’s because once these districts are drawn, they’ll be in place for ten years.

“We’ve been promising this for over a decade, and we have nothing to show for it,” said Senate Minority Leader Sen. Greg Taylor.

He said now is the time to protect Indiana from people who want to draw statehouse districts to create a political advantage or gerrymandering.

“With the high voter turnout, I think people are excited about voting,” said Taylor. “They voted more than they ever have in the past this year and I think we need to seize that momentum going forward.”

Democratic State Senator J.D. Ford said it’s up to citizens to keep asking lawmakers for a fair redistricting system.

“My call of Hoosiers is to stay engaged in this process,” said Sen. Ford. “What I fear is going to happen is that this is going to be some backroom behind the scenes information that these maps are going to be drawn, the public will have little to no input.”

Sen. Taylor’s bill is similar to the bill he proposed last session. It would make sure members of the public can access redistricting data and the software for drawing maps. It would also allow the public to submit their own maps for consideration.

“It also sets out standards that says you can’t take into account a person or political party,” said Sen. Taylor.

We asked Republican majority leaders what they thought of this legislation.

“I think people’s input is important on that issue in particular,” said Senate President Pro Tem State Sen. Rodric Bray.

“We will have statewide meetings about redistricting. What those look like, that’s to be determined in this world and when we have them is to be determined because we don’t even know, there’s a lot of discussion about when we will get the data back,” said Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston.

What the Republican majority leaders do not want is a non-partisan or bipartisan board to draw the districts. They said the legislature is required by law to draw the districts and they plan to keep it that way.

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