House, Senate still divided on new map

Oct 5 2011 - 6:41am

SALT LAKE CITY -- House and Senate Republicans spent most of Tuesday working on redrawing a congressional map.

The Senate had approved a congressional map Monday that divided the state into four districts, but the House did not like that version.

"The House and the Senate are not together on (the map)," Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, said late Tuesday evening.

He and other Republicans met behind closed doors in an attempt to come up with a compromise, but, as of 9 p.m. Tuesday, were unable to.

"There are some maps out there with traction to them, but they need a public hearing and time for public comment," Stevenson said.

The Redistricting Committee will meet at 10 a.m. today. The entire legislative body will reconvene Oct. 18.

No matter what map is finally approved by both the House and Senate, Davis County, along with Utah and Salt Lake counties, will be split up.

The state has to go through redistricting every 10 years following a census. Gov. Gary Herbert called for a special session this week to finish the redistricting.

A Redistricting Committee of legislators formed six months ago held public meetings across the state to get input on several maps, including new districts for state representatives, state senators and the state board of education, all of which have been approved.

The splitting of Davis County on the congressional map concerns some legislators.

Rep. Brad Wilson, R-Kaysville, said, "It would be nice to keep Davis County whole, but it has become evident that is not going to happen."

He and other lawmakers want to make sure voters will have "some impact" if Davis County is split, he said.

"We need to pull enough of them in so they have a collective voice and could be heard, which is easier said than done."

Rep. Roger Barrus, R-Centerville, said he, too, is concerned about how Davis County gets split, because "however it is mapped, there is an opportunity to make a difference."

Rep. Gage Froerer, R-Huntsville, serves on the committee and said the discussion has been centered around where to divide the county.

"What does Davis County give up, in terms of people, in order to keep the integrity of Salt Lake County?" he said.

Lawmakers are tasked with creating four congressional districts with 690,971 people in each district.

Earlier Tuesday, Majority Leader Rep. Brad Dee, R-Washington Terrace, said he was optimistic and believed a resolution between the Senate and the House could be reached before the day was done.

"My goal is to get (a congressional map) out by midnight," he said.

The Democratic leadership met with the media at 8:30 p.m. and said they were upset with the closed meetings that had been held all day.

"Maps are being drawn in secret behind closed doors," said Senate Minority Whip Karen W. Morgan, D-Salt Lake City. "That's not right. That's not fair."

Sen. Benjamin McAdams, D-Salt Lake City, presented a map at the redistricting committee meeting Tuesday morning, but it was not approved.

The committee hearing got heated when attorney Anthony Kaye, with the Utah Democratic Lawyers Council, testified any map approved that had the state cut like a pizza would bring litigation because those maps would be unconstitutional.

House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, said threatening a lawsuit would "only chill" the debate.

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