State House rejects Senate redistricting map | Wyoming News


CASPER — The Wyoming House of Representatives on Monday rejected the Senate-approved redistricting map, paving the way for negotiations between the chambers later this week. What is at stake are the legislative districts in which lawmakers will sit over the next decade.

The two chambers will have to establish multiple differences, including the size of the legislature. The House was the first chamber to work on the bill, and Representatives tweaked the map there, then it moved on to the Senate, where lawmakers tweaked it further.

In the end, the House did not like the changes made by the other house, rejecting them by a vote of 46 to 11 on Monday.

Lawmakers have been working for months to redesign the state’s legislative districts in light of demographic shifts over the past decade. The process has been a challenge, especially as lawmakers try to balance population growth in Wyoming’s big cities with the state’s shrinking population in rural areas.

The card the House handed over to the Senate added three lawmakers — two representatives and a senator — to the 90 that already exist.

The Senate deleted them and reinstated a number of lines on an older map that the committee responsible for redrawing chose not to propose.

The House and Senate maps were slightly “off-deviation,” meaning that the voter-to-representative ratio was not proportional enough.

If districts are off-deviation, they risk being struck down by the courts in violation of the 14th Amendment. Courts have ruled that if districts are within 10% of variance, they comply with the 14th Amendment.

The House card is considered less risky legally than the Senate card.

Monday’s vote prompted the legislative leadership to appoint a committee of three representatives and three senators to eliminate differences between the chambers.

In the first round of conference committee meetings, lawmakers will work through both bills. For example, because one chamber has 93 legislators on its map and the other chamber has 90, the joint committee can only release a plan between 90 and 93 legislators. Once the first round of meetings is over, however, lawmakers have carte blanche.

The joint committee is made up of Representatives Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale and House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette. Senate members include Bill Landen, R-Casper, Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan and Ed Cooper, R-Ten Sleep.

If the committee reaches an agreement, the panel will present a card for both chambers to vote on.

Several lawmakers called the redistricting task a “political process,” acknowledging that the map must satisfy the majority of sitting lawmakers, given that it needs 16 votes on the Senate side and 31 on the House side to vote. to pass.

There have been sporadic mentions of a possible special session to complete the redistricting process, but Barlow is confident lawmakers will do so this week.

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