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Legislative Report District 22: Census data disparity signals need for redistricting

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Things are moving right along with the Legislative Session in Bismarck.

We've now finished the thirteenth week. Soon we'll be meeting in conference committees to work out the differences in House and Senate bill versions. As of today, 33 measures will be going to conference committee, but there are still several others that have yet to be heard on the floor.

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In addition to the regular business of the Legislature, we recently received the data from the 2010 census. District 27 in Fargo alone has seen an increase of over 12,000 people. District 22 saw growth of 7,400 people. On the other hand, some of the more rural areas of our state have seen a decrease in population over the last ten years. With these population differences in districts as they stand now, a person's vote in one district is not equal with one in another's.

Because of this disparity, redistricting must occur to redraw legislative district boundaries. The process will result in all districts having approximately the same number of people and representation in the legislature will be "fair" once again. Districts with increases in population will get smaller while those with decreases will grow in size.

One bill that is important as we deal with this issue is HB 1267, which will establish a legislative redistricting committee that will oversee the redistricting process. Though there may be amendments added to change the current language, the bill now calls for the committee to be made up of equal numbers of both House and Senate members. The committee will meet and then recommend a redistricting plan to the legislature via special session sometime in November. It will be interesting to see what that meeting will have in store for District 22 in terms of new district lines.

As always, please don't hesitate to contact your District 22 representatives. Vonnie, Wes, and I always appreciate hearing from constituents. We can be reached at galee@nd.gov, wbelter@nd.gov, and vpietsch@nd.gov.

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