Februrary 2, 2019
IFCL has been working with the Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting at the Statehouse this January to pass redistricting reform. Senator John Ruckelshaus has introduced SB 91, which is the coalition’s bill to create a citizens redistricting commission for Indiana. So far, we have not gotten a commitment from the Chair of the Senate Elections Committee, Senator Greg Walker, to hear this bill. With some encouragement from folks around the state, he is more likely to give our bill a hearing and vote.
Please contact Senator Walker today by clicking on this link from Common Cause Indiana. https://actionnetwork.org/letters/senator-walker-give-us-a-hearing/?link_id=1&can_id=df9c01001f16dee04d57a3d43dd997ef&source=email-redistricting-reform-cant-wait&email_referrer=email_475631&email_subject=redistricting-reform-cant-wait.
In addition, the coalition recently released the following, a letter to Indiana legislative leaders to back SB 91 as well as another citizen redistricting commission bill, HB 1011.
“(INDIANAPOLIS, IN)- Ten public interest organizations — representing tens of thousands of Hoosiers — have issued a united call to the leaders of the Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives to hear — and support — citizens redistricting commission reform bills this session.
SB 91, filed by Republican Senators Ruckelshaus (Indianapolis), Bohacek (Michiana Shores), and Ford (Terre Haute), as well as HB 1011, filed by Republican Representatives Torr (Carmel) and Clere (New Albany), would both bring about citizens redistricting commissions. Such a Commission, led by a politically balanced team of citizens, would be similar to Commissions in a growing number of states that aim to draw state legislative and Congressional maps that are colorblind to party affiliations, keep local government boundaries together, and stay in compliance with state and federal civil rights law.
More than 25 local governments in Indiana have adopted resolutions calling for a citizen-led redistricting commission for Indiana. “There is a groundswell out there for reform,” states Debbie Asberry of the League of Women Voters of Indiana. “Citizens know full well that very low levels of voter turnout and civic engagement are tied to the way that we draw districts in Indiana — where elections feel like foregone conclusions because they are drawn to favor one political party or another.”
“Legislative leaders have acted with foresight on some of the leading issues facing our state in the recent past,” notes Jesse Kharbanda of the Hoosier Environmental Council. “Time is running out for our legislature to act on the leading issue of redistricting reform. If we fail to act in the 2019 session, we may have to wait another ten years before we have another shot at creating fairer maps for Indiana. Much is at stake for voter and civic involvement.”
“Colorado, Michigan, Missouri, and Utah are some of the states that recently enacted redistricting reforms. We have many models to follow – and states like Indiana can otherwise create our own path. But we must act. President Pro Tem Bray, Speaker Bosma, Leader Lanane, and Leader GiaQuinta, please do everything possible to see that reform bills are heard, receive votes, and become law,” intones Julia Vaughn of Common Cause Indiana.
Organizations who have signed on to the letter to legislative leaders include: League of Women Voters of Indiana, Common Cause Indiana, Women4Change Indiana Action Fund, Hoosier Environmental Council, American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Indiana Muslim Advocacy Network, Earth Charter Indiana, Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation, and The Greater Indianapolis NAACP Branch 3053.”
Finally, next week will be an important one for the campaign to end gerrymandering in our state. Legislation to create a set of public interest standards for redistricting, SB 105, will get a hearing in the Senate Elections Committee on Monday, February 4. SB 105, sponsored by Senator Greg Walker, isn’t everything necessary for a fair and impartial redistricting process in Indiana, but it is an important piece of the puzzle. Coalition activists will be at the hearing to testify in support of this bill and to urge lawmakers to add amendments to make it stronger. We will also testify to the need to address not only HOW districts are drawn, but also WHO draws the maps — and will continue to call for the creation of a citizens redistricting commission with SB 91. If you’re not able to join us in person next week, you can watch the Senate Elections Committee hearing here: http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2019/meeting/watchlive/983fe2e2-7f7d-4669-ab80-36ddf4ca5bd5/?link_id=0&can_id=36ca9639678bd01d46e6e6b351e410bd&source=email-youre-invited-redistricting-reform-lobby-day-on-feb-4th&email_referrer=email_486080&email_subject=youre-invited-redistricting-reform-lobby-day-on-feb-4th
Time is running out for redistricting reform. Contact IFCL to learn how you can help build support for reform in your community.