Indiana's redistricting process is moving quickly forward.
That's just how it's going to be, apparently.
A series of recent hearings around the state on redistricting ended Wednesday in Indianapolis, with Republican lawmakers who control the process for redrawing electoral boundaries showing little interest in public input on new maps that will determine how Hoosiers choose their elected leaders. The hearings – one took place on Aug. 7 in Fort Wayne – gave residents an opportunity to push for more meetings to weigh in on proposed maps and an independent redistricting commission.
Neither is likely to happen, The Journal Gazette's Niki Kelly reported.
Republicans, who hold asupermajority at the Statehouse, hosted nine hearings – ostensibly to hear from constituents about how the lines should be drawn. But each took place before U.S. Census data that will be used to design the maps was released, giving residents few specifics and little say in the actual process.
That process begins in earnest now, and lawmakers will return to the Statehouse next month to move forward bills to implement changes. Hearings in the House and Senate will take place – the same as for any other type of bill – but there will be no additional presentations or public hearings.
“I think public input is always important and something that we're looking for and specifically taking notes,” Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola and chair of the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment, said.
Taking notes but not taking action. He claims additional input sessions would hurt county election officials preparing for primaries in May. Others, including Marilyn Moran-Townsend – a Fort Wayne Republican and former chair of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce – want more discussion and increased competition in elections.
“Unfair maps lead to less representative government, more extreme government and less responsive government,” she said.
House Republicans have hired attorney Jason Torchinsky, a veteran of legal battles defending GOP maps and opposing independent redistricting commissions, as a consultant – another sign outside voices will not be a part of the process.
Those voices are important, and lawmakers should listen.
What do you think?
What are your priorities for redistricting? Should further hearings take place after maps are drawn? Make your opinion known.
600 W. Main St.
Fort Wayne, IN 46802