Michigan redistricting to reflect a state at a crossroads

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February 3, 2011

By Kyle Maichle

LANSING, Michigan: From 2000 to 2010, Michigan experienced population decline that resulted in the loss of a congressional seat.[1] With the Wolverine State reduced from 15 to 14 seats in Congress, legislators will be confronted with the issue of redrawing political boundaries.[1][2][3]

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A Republican-controlled Legislature will be in charge of the redistricting process.[2] A staffer for State Rep. Peter Lund (R), told The State News that the House Redistricting and Elections committee has not held an official meeting.[2] This did not stop both sides from giving their opinions on redistricting.[2] Ari Adler, a spokesman for House Speaker Jase Bolger (R), said: "We intend to handle redistricting in a responsible manner, like we are other things."[2] Katie Carey, a spokeswoman for Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer (D), told The State News that Democrats will aim for transparency in redistricting.[2] Democrats would create a website to gather public input along with holding public hearings according to Carey.[2]

One Democrat in the State House introduced a plan to increase transparency.[4] Rep. Barb Byrum's (D) proposal called for a minimum of six public hearings after Census data is released and require online disclosure for communications involving redistricting from outside parties to House members and staff.[4] Also, new redistricting plans would require online disclosure.[4] The proposal was defeated in the House by a 63-45 vote on January 27, 2011.[5]

Wayne County, which encompasses the Detroit Area, could see the biggest changes with redistricting.[2] During a forum hosted by Michigan State University's Institute for Public Policy and Social Research on January 26, 2011, speakers predicted that the county could lose one seat in the Senate and two seats in the House based on Census data.[2] Bernie Porn, President of the EPIC-MIRA polling firm, said that legislators could target the Detroit Area by probably merging two of its congressional districts.[2] Wayne County lost nearly 200,000 citizens from 2000 to 2010.[2]

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