Bill would adjust the procedures of Colorado’s Redistricting Commissions in the wake of COVID-19 related delays.
DENVER, CO– The House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee today passed Majority Leader Daneya Esgar’s bipartisan bill to propose alternative procedures for Colorado’s bipartisan Redistricting Commissions given the delay in the Census data necessary to redraw Congressional and state legislative districts. The bill passed by a vote of 10-1.
“By passing Amendments Y and Z, our voters spoke with one clear voice to prevent gerrymandering in Colorado’s 2021 redistricting process,” said Majority Leader Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo. “None of us could have predicted a global public health emergency would delay the Census’ delivery of population data, but today’s bill works to ensure our redistricting process continues in a timely way despite the challenges. I’m proud of the bipartisan work we have done to guarantee fair and balanced maps for Colorado.”
Amendments Y and Z established a clear timeline for Colorado’s electoral redistricting efforts. These dates, mandated in the constitution, require the Commissions to use “necessary census data” to accurately draw electoral districts for the state. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a delay in the ability of the United States Census Bureau (Census Bureau) to deliver to the state the population and demographic data necessary to redraw election districts. This delay prevents both the independent redistricting commissions (both Congressional and legislative) from completing their work by the deadlines in the constitution.
SB21-247, an Executive Committee bill sponsored by Minority and Majority Leaders in both the House and Senate, is intended to give the Commission the flexibility it needs to draw fair electoral maps in the face of these delays. Only as it applies to the current redistricting cycle, the bill amends the definition of “necessary census data” to allow the preliminary plans to be developed using state apportionment data that was released on April 26, and other population and demographic data from federal or state sources that are approved by the commissions. The three staff plans to be drafted by nonpartisan staff, one of which will be submitted to the Supreme Court for approval, have to be drawn using final census data. The bill also requires a public hearing on maps being drawn with final census data once it is made available.
This bill will serve as the basis for an interrogatory to be submitted to the Supreme Court this week regarding these alternative procedures for redistricting.