An overwhelming consensus has become apparent from public testimony at hearings held by the Senate and House Redistricting Committees over the last two weeks. Oregonians want the Legislature to fulfill its constitutional obligation and pass a bi-partisan redistricting plan rather than punt map drawing responsibilities to the Secretary of State.
“Hearing after hearing, the common theme was that the Legislature should do the hard work to come up with a redistricting plan acceptable to a majority of Democrat and Republican Senators and Representatives,” said Senator Chris Telfer (R-Bend), Vice Chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee. “It won’t be easy, and it will require compromise, but the public is expecting a plan written by the Legislature and signed by the governor. Anything else is unacceptable.”
The Senate and House Redistricting Committees have held hearings in, La Grande, Burns, Medford, Coos Bay and Bend to hear public input on what new districts should look like. Each hearing had live video conferencing which gave Oregonians in Pendleton, Baker City, Ontario, John Day, Madras, The Dalles, Ashland, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, and Roseburg an opportunity to give input. The consistent message from those that testified was that the Legislature should pass a map that meets the requirements of both political parties. Oregonians are not interested in having the Secretary of State draw the political map that will govern Oregon for the next ten years.
“The last four attempts, the Legislature and governor have been unable to agree on a re-districting plan,” said Telfer. “For over forty years, Oregonians have lived with partisan districts drawn by one person. We have the unique opportunity this year to put together a map based on bi-partisanship that reflects the values of Oregonians.”
Every ten years the Legislature is constitutionally obligated to draw new congressional and legislative districts. The new redistricting map must include boundaries for 60 House districts, 30 Senate districts and five United States Congressional districts. The legislative plan must be adopted by July 1st. State statute requires that the redistricting plan must be contiguous, be of equal population, utilize existing geographic or political boundaries, not divide communities of common interest, and be connected by transportation links. Constitutional and statutory requirements for the redistricting process can be found in Article IV Section 6 of the Oregon Constitution and ORS 188.010.