State Lawmakers Stall Progress of Independent Redistricting Commission in Utah
The Salt Lake Tribune reported Tuesday that legislation to create an independent redistricting commission in Utah stalled in committee. The proposed 9-member commission was recommended for study over the summer.
HB313 was introduced by Rep. Rebecca Chavez-Houck (D-Salt Lake City) in an effort to restore public trust and confidence in the redistricting process and elections. Supporters of the bill include the League of Women Voters and Represent Me Utah, a nonprofit organization that pushes for ways to increase citizen involvement in local, state, and federal levels of government.
The Tribune reports:
Chavez-Houck's proposal calls for a nine-person commission with three judges, two voters registered as independents, plus two Republicans and two Democrats appointed by legislative leaders. It would hold hearings around the state. Chavez-Houck said it would be advisory only, and legislators would retain final power to draw boundaries. She noted that Salt Lake County used a similar commission to draw its boundaries for the county council — and closely followed its recommendations.
So unlike states like California and Arizona -- whose independent redistricting commission was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2015 -- the proposed commission would not actually take part in the drawing of the districts. According to a July report from UtahPolicy.com, 65 percent of Utahns believed an independent redistricting commission should redraw electoral districts after the Census, not legislators.