AZ Lawmakers Likely To Consider Changes to Independent Redistricting Commission

December 21, 2011

The state’s Independent Redistricting Commission approved final legislative and congressional maps last night…on three to two votes. And, legislative Republican leaders are continuing to talk about possible changes to the panel in the future. From Phoenix, KJZZ’s Mark Brodie reports.

MARK BRODIE: There are a few steps left before the maps are sent to the Justice Department for approval, but even before last night’s votes, the question of what to do with the IRC had been generating discussion at the capitol. Many lawmakers acknowledge they likely will take up the issue in their upcoming session, although some say it’s not necessary to do right away.  Since voters created the commission, any changes to it would also have to be approved at the ballot. House Speaker Andy Tobin says while that doesn’t have to happen next year, it does have to happen.

ANDY TOBIN: "When the maps are finalized, I’m sure we’re going to be in court over this process for some time, and we may be having to go to the voters more quickly, and everything’s on the table with this."

MARK BRODIE: One idea brought up by lawmakers of both parties is to ask voters to add members to the commission. A popular plan would be to have the panel made up of 3Republicans, 3 Democrats and 3 independents. Tobin, and incoming Senate President Steve Pierce, both say rural parts of the state need representation.  Pierce says the current process is broken.

STEVE PIERCE: "There’s a lot of things that need to be looked at and reformed, and probably it will be reformed. The way it is is wrong. There’s too many things that have happened that are not good. This was supposed to be non-partisan, and it is more political than it has ever been."

The redistricting commission’s voting rights experts will now examine the maps, to make sure they comply with federal law. If changes are needed, the panel will have to vote on them.