Utah Legislative Redistricting Committee to Hold Public Hearing at SUU

Utah’s Legislative Redistricting Committee will be visiting Southern Utah University’s Church Auditorium Friday, Sept. 24 at 1 p.m. for a public hearing regarding their selection of redistricting maps.

These will be revisions of the maps the Independent Redistricting Commission has presented in their hearing tour over the past weeks. The event is also available to attend electronically, according to the Utah Legislature website.

The committee’s public hearing should proceed in similar fashion to the Independent Redistricting Commission’s hearing from Sept. 18. Utah Sen. Scott Sandall and representative Paul Ray will propose redistricting map drafts on behalf of the committee and seek public input on the borders for districts.

The puzzle is that the districts are meant to contain equal portions of the state’s population and should also represent communities’ values so the input the committee is seeking on their maps is on where geographic lines meet community value lines.

The committee’s charge is to draft and present maps for congressional, state senate and house of representatives and school board districts.

Independent Redistricting Commission Chair Rex Facer explained that on some maps, Cedar City and Enoch were divided by a district line. The questions the commissioners had for the public on these maps were on the practicality of dividing the towns along that line.

“Is there something that makes more sense to the people in the communities?” Facer asked. “This is why we encourage as many people as possible to come to these hearings.”

The difference between this hearing and the previous one is essentially the stage of the redistricting process it represents. While the Independent Redistricting Commission was gathering information to draft maps for the Legislative Redistricting Committee, this round will be the final phase of drafting before the committee submits their maps to the governor for approval.

This process is decadal, so the state’s population has seen some substantial change since the previous census in 2010. The Census Bureau estimates a 16% population increase between April, 2010 and July, 2020 — around 450,000 people.

The redistricting committee has a schedule of their upcoming hearings on their website, and will be in Saint George on Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. for anyone who cannot attend in Cedar City.

Story by Janzen Jorgensen
Photo by Jaxon Lott