Time for legislature to start drawing line

Hoosier lawmakers are inching their way — literally, it seems — toward the creation of a redistricting commission that would redraw Indiana’s legislative district boundaries.

The commission is not a new idea; it’s been talked about for years. But following the latest meeting of the state’s Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting, it seemed the idea moved past the notion that a commission is needed to the early discussions of how such a body would work.

Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, suggested a good place to start the discussion would be with a bill he sponsored that overwhelmingly passed the House two years ago but died in the GOP-led Senate.

Torr’s bill calls for a five-member commission with one member each appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. Those four members would then select a fifth.

Torr’s plan isn’t the only one floating around the Statehouse. Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of Indiana have come up with a plan that calls for a nine-member commission that would include three Republicans, three Democrats and three nonpartisan Hoosiers chosen by lottery following an application process overseen by legislative leaders.

The exact makeup of the commission is of less importance than the fact that it must be bipartisan and allowed to work independently of the General Assembly. Yes, the legislature must create the commission by law, but once it is the legislature must maintain hands off or it won’t work. The issue could even be brought before Indiana voters if a constitutional amendment to implement the change is required.

The next redistricting in Indiana will take place in 2021. That’s plenty of time to establish the commission, create its guidelines, set its agenda and get it up and running. But that’s only if the legislature is committed to making the process work. If not, it will all have been a waste of time.

Two years ago Indiana had the lowest voter turnout in the country for midterm elections. That must change and the first step in making sure that happens is the creation of a bipartisan, independent redistricting commission.

This was distributed by Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to [email protected].