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House panel weighs hands-on vs. hands-off redistricting processes

Every 10 years, the political district lines are redrawn. The House Government Operations and Elections Policy Committee heard competing visions Tuesday for who should draw the lines in Minnesota after the 2020 U.S. Census.

Under her bill, HF314, Rep. Sarah Anderson (R-Plymouth) said the responsibility should rest with the state Legislature.

An amendment successfully offered by Rep. Laurie Halverson (DFL-Eagan) states that “districts must not be drawn for the purpose of protecting or defeating an incumbent.”

Legislators wouldn’t be able to ask “any commission, council, panel, or other entity that is not comprised solely of members of the legislature” to draw congressional and legislative boundaries under HF314.

Approved by the committee, HF314 moves next to the House State Government Finance Committee, which Anderson chairs. Its companion, SF86, sponsored by Sen. Mary Kiffmeyer (R-Big Lake), awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.

Rep. Jennifer Schultz (DFL-Duluth) sponsors HF246, which would establish a commission of five retired judges to draw new districts. The four caucus leaders in the House and Senate would each appoint a member, and those four commission members would together choose a fifth member. They would hold at least three public hearings in different parts of the state. Their resulting plan would need to win approval by the Legislature.

The committee laid HF246 over for possible inclusion in a future bill. SF370, sponsored by Sen. Jason Isaacson (DFL-Shoreview) is the companion. It, too, awaits action by the Senate State Government Finance and Policy and Elections Committee.


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