Ind. Gov't. - "Indiana House, Senate differ on timing of new legislative districts"
Fascinating story, dated July 15th in this Indiana Economic Digest posting, from CNHI's statehouse bureau chief Maureen Hayden. Some quotes from the long story:
The Indiana General Assembly voted in April on a redistricting plan that revamps state legislative districts, but when it goes into effect depends on which side of the Statehouse those legislators are on.
State senators were told by their leaders to start representing their new districts July 1 and to immediately begin serving constituents in their newly carved territories.
House members, though, were told the redistricted maps, which are created every 10 years and are driven by census numbers, don’t go into effect for them until after the November 2012 election.
The result is that Senate members who were elected by one group of voters are now representing some voters who elected someone else to the Senate, while House members are representing the same voters who put them into office last November. * * *
Jeff Papa, chief legal counsel for the Indiana Senate, said the redistricting bill passed by the legislature in the last session contained language that made the maps effective as of July 1.
But House leaders read the bill differently. A statement released by House Speaker Brian Bosma said “House Republicans were elected in November to a two-year term, and will fulfill their elected duty by representing their current districts until the next election.”
Rep. Jeff Espich, a longtime member of the House from Uniondale who’s been through three redistrictings, said he read the bill that way, too. “I don’t think legally they start representing a new district until they’re elected by voters in that district,” Espich said.
The Senate’s decision to move ahead with implementing the new districts caught some House members by surprise. In late June, when the Muncie Star-Press wrote a story that said redistricting by the Republican-controlled state legislature put Muncie in Democrat state Sen. Tim Lanane’s district effective July 1, some House members thought the newspaper had erred.
But Lanane, like Leising and Head, was told by Senate leaders that he was to start representing constituents in his new district and refer constituents in his old district to their new state senator. Like Leising and Head, Lanane also vows to help constituents from his old districts, so that no one falls between the cracks. “We’re all here to serve Hoosiers,” Lanane said.
The different approach toward the new maps stems in large part from the logistics of Senate elections. While all House members are up for re-election every two years, state Senate terms are staggered. Each senator serves a four-year term, with half of the Senate up for election during one election cycle while the other half is up for election two years later.
Papa said delaying implementation of the maps would mean some senators would be elected in new districts that would overlap with the old districts of senators who had yet to face election. “This stops the confusion,” Papa said of the July 1 effective date.
Under the new Senate district maps, there is an incumbent state senator living in every district. But House members would have difficulty implementing the July 1 date because the new House district maps include nine new districts where there is no incumbent House member and several districts where two incumbents or more reside. If the House were to have adopted the new districts July 1, some communities would have no representation, while others would have had two or more House members representing them in the Statehouse.