A study committee voted Monday to recommend that the General Assembly create a bipartisan commission to draw Indiana’s legislative district maps.
The ommittee’s end product is proposed legislation to create a nine-member, bipartisan redistricting commission.
Some members of the commission would be appointed by legislative caucus leaders; others, picked from a pool of candidates nominated by the Chief Justice of Indiana’s Supreme Court and the presidents of Purdue, Ball State and Indiana University. The commission would draw legislative maps after the census; the General Assembly would still have to approve those maps.
Common Cause Indiana’s Julia Vaughn, a longtime advocate for reform, calls the proposed legislation “imperfect” and a “first step.”
“It’s good to get a recommendation from a legislative study committee but once you start the legislative session it’s really a whole new ballgame,” Vaughn says.
The study committee’s recommendation was not unanimous. Three members, all representing the Senate Republican caucus, voted no. They’ve expressed skepticism about the need for reform.
Republican Sen. Brandt Hershman, who’s expressed skepticism about the need for redistricting reform, says the study committee never defined what problem needs to be solved.
“To have this committee advise a piece of legislation which has been ill-vetted and does not contain the factual underpinnings for what problem we’re trying to fix does a disservice to the voters of Indiana,” Hershman says.
The General Assembly will consider the proposed bill in its next session, which begins in January.