PIERRE – A resolution introduced by Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, to create a bipartisan legislative redistricting committee was defeated by a partisan vote in the House State Affairs Committee.
Rep. David Novstrup, R-Aberdeen, moved to defer it to the 41st legislative day, effectively killing it. Eight Republicans on the committee voted to kill the bill, while all four Democrats on the panel voted in favor of the bipartisan commission.
“The citizens being the ones that decide the districts somewhat makes me nervous,” Novstrup said during the committee hearing. “Not that I don’t trust them, but it somewhat makes me nervous.”
“The arguments just don’t have any weight,” Democratic House leader Rep. Bernie Hunhoff, D-Yankton, said. “Nothing’s ever going to be perfect, but the system we have now is far from perfect. Republicans have about 46 or 47 percent of registered voters; they have what, 80 percent of the Legislature? I think that’s the only number you need to know.”
The resolution would have created a commission consisting of citizens who were appointed by legislators to draw legislative district lines.
Now, partisan legislators can draw the lines for their own districts based on population every 10 years, coinciding with the federal census. The majority party is allowed more votes on the redistricting committee than the minority party.
This measure would have allowed legislators from each party to appoint the same number of members to the commission.
The measure would also have established single-member House districts, replacing the current practice of four candidates running for two seats in the Legislature where voters pick their top two choices.
“For South Dakota Farmers Union, this is a rural issue,” said Mike Traxinger, Farmers Union’s legislative director, in testimony before the committee on Monday.
“South Dakota’s rural voice continues to shrink in the South Dakota Legislature,” he said. “With single-member House districts, there is the potential to have a minimum of seven more rural legislators in the state of South Dakota.”
Gibson’s resolution would have changed the Constitution. It would have gone to a public vote in 2014 had it passed the Legislature and received the governor’s signature.
For the complete article see the 02-06-2013 issue.
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