Representative Scott Bruun has introduced legislation that would invite a panel of judges to redistrict congressional and legislative boundaries.
By Rebecca Tweed
Taxpayer Association Lawmaker Profile Series
State Representative Scott Bruun (R-West Linn) thinks its time to set some boundaries on how we choose our boundaries. Currently, under Oregon law, the redistricting of congressional and legislative boundaries is at the decision of the Secretary of State. Representative Scott Bruun has introduced a resolution that would open the decision making to a panel, rather than just a person. House Joint Resolution 36 would put into operation a panel of 12 retired and non-partisan judges that would be tasked with writing the new congressional and legislative boundaries, using the natural boundaries that already exist, but aren’t adhered to.
The redistricting-by-panel process would begin after the 2010 Census, that information would be utilized in the formation of new boundaries and the new districts would be first implemented in 2012. Should this new format be put into law, the chosen congressional and legislative districts would be applied for five election cycles, essentially until the next Census is concluded. The resolution also calls for there to be a number of public hearings during the process so as to include all interested parties in the process.
“While we’d like to hope everything that can be done in a non-partisan manner, the Secretary of State will always have an R or a D by their name and it’s proven that the layout of a district dramatically affects the outcome of a race,” says Representative Bruun. “Other states use a panel method successfully and I think it’s time Oregon does as well. It’s foolproof.”
Representative Scott Bruun is extremely passionate about this legislation, having introduced it in the 2007 legislative session as well. It’s also been carried introduced in the past by other legislators, but the language has never quite been solid enough to pass through. Representative Scott Bruun has garnered support across the aisle with Dave Edwards (D””Hillsboro) coming on as Co-Chief Sponsor of the resolution and he expects it will pass, given the support he’s received across the aisle thus far.
“It’s so non-partisan, it’s painfully non-partisan. There have been efforts to do this before because people realize it’s a common sense decision for our state. This is one large step to a transparent and fair election system in our state and this is the resolution to do it. There’s no reason to fight it at this point. If it doesn’t work in 2012, I’m more than happy to come back to the drawing table.”