With the Monday evening release of maps, the state House outlined the politics of Minnesota that Republican lawmakers would like to see for the next decade.
The maps of proposed new legislative districts equalize the population size in all districts, based on the once-a-decade census numbers. They are the first shot in the decennial redistricting fight that will captivate political strategists for months.
Lawmakers are scheduled to debate the maps, drawn by Republican lawmakers in charge of the House, Tuesday evening in committee. The House will release a proposal for the congressional districts in the coming weeks.
"We are exercising due diligence in performing our constitutional duty of creating a fair, representative map for all Minnesotans," said House Redistricting Committee Chair Sarah Anderson, R-Plymouth.
Critics say the maps were not developed in the open and their release, just 24 hours before the Tuesday hearing, does not allow interested members of the public or lawmakers to sufficiently examine the plan. Republican House members were breifed on the plan Monday afternoon; Democrats were not.
The maps would match 10 incumbent House members against 10 of their colleagues. Half of the match-ups would pit a Democrat against another Democrat, four would pit a Republican against a Democrat and one would pit a Republican against another Republican.The plan would also match three Democratic Senators against another three incumbent Democrats, according to MPR.
"Probably the effort was on protecting people, rather than looking at communities of interest," said Rep. Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, who sits on the House Redistricting Committee. She said the maps weren't produced openly. "We seem to have a process that is designed to exclude public input."
For some Minnesotans the new plan, if it became law, would mean some major changes in represenation.
"If this passes as written would overnight go from representation by Ann Rest and Sandra Petersen to Warren Limmer and Kurt Zellers!" Republican Derek Brigham wrote Monday night on the Look True North blog. Rest and Petersen are DFLers. Limmer and Zellers are Republicans.
Given the Republican control in the Legislature and the Democratic control of the governor’s office, most veteran redistricting watchers expect that the final maps will be drawn by a judicial panel next year if lawmakers and the governor fail to agree.
The congressional and legislative candidates will run in 2012 based on whatever new maps are finally approved.