DENVER, CO– The House today passed a resolution to send an interrogatory to the Colorado Supreme Court regarding changes to redistricting procedures made in SB21-247.
“Colorado voters were clear in passing Amendments Y and Z that they want to see an independent redistricting process without partisan gerrymandering,” said Majority Leader Daneya
Esgar, D-Pueblo. “While no one could have predicted that a public health crisis would throw a wrench into our carefully crafted process, we have to do everything we can to ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible. That’s why we’re engaged in a bipartisan effort with the Colorado Supreme Court to guarantee fair and balanced maps are delivered on time and with full public participation and input.”
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 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.
The resolution, HR21-XXXX, asks the Colorado Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of two provisions of SB21-247: 1) the use of preliminary, non-final census data for the drafting of preliminary plans, and 2) the provision of SB21-247 that directs the Court to apply a standard of substantial compliance with only the technical requirements of the redistricting process as created in Amendments Y and Z. Final passage of SB21-247 is dependent on the Court’s response on these matters.
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. It also establishes a substantial compliance standard for any legal challenge that may arise concerning compliance with the technical requirements of Amendments Y and Z—not the substantial requirements on the process, such as the criteria in which the districts have to be drawn.