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Amended legislation clears the way for reconvened session on redistricting later this year

Follow our legislative coverage at The Indiana Citizen, in partnership with TheStatehouseFile.com

UPDATE: Amended legislation adopted by the Indiana House and Senate on Thursday set the stage for a reconvened session later this year in which lawmakers will redraw congressional and legislative districts.

The conference committee report on House Bill 1372, which originally dealt with the unrelated topic of reimbursing county sheriffs for emergency transportation of inmates, added provisions to allow the General Assembly to control the redistricting process which was thrown off course by a delay in 2020 census data resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The data ordinarily would have been available in time for the legislature to complete the process by the time of its usual adjournment at the end of April.

Under the amended legislation, adjournment of the current session will be delayed until no later than Nov. 15, allowing the legislature to recess or temporarily adjourn in April and reconvene after the release of the data, expected by the end of September. If the current session had been adjourned in April, it would have been up to the governor to call a special session for redistricting.

The amendments in the committee report also — for this year only — postpone to Nov. 15 the date by which the legislature must complete the redistricting process before turning the task over to a commission of five legislators, one of whom would be appointed by the governor.

Also changed is the time frame during which legislators cannot engage in fundraising — ordinarily, the entirety of a legislative session due to ethical concerns. The amendments allow fundraising to resume at the end of April. — The Indiana Citizen

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EARLIER: Indiana’s Republican legislative leadership has offered a few details about possible plans for the decennial redistricting process, according to an Associated Press report on April 11.

According to the report, Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston (above) suggested public hearings might be held around the state, and the House and Senate election committees would meet to discuss the maps, prior to a reconvened  legislative session expected after census data is released in late September.

Huston’s remarks followed the release of Senate Republicans’ proposed state budget bill, which includes provisions for the official end of the current legislative session, ordinarily set at the end of April, to be Nov. 15. That would allow for legislative leaders to reconvene the session after the release of census data.

The bill also contains an amendment to a provision that if the legislature adjourns on or before April 29 without completing the redistricting process, a five-member commission that includes only designated legislators and a legislator appointed by the governor takes over the redistricting process; the amendment changes that date to Nov. 15, providing enough time for the current process to remain in place. Legislative leaders had announced earlier that they would take the legislative steps necessary to avoid turning the process over to the commission.

Democrats in the General Assembly have pushed for legislation to provide for independent or nonpartisan approaches to redrawing congressional and legislative districts, but a Senate bill providing for that was not given a committee hearing and attempts in the House to amend other legislation to assign the redrawing process to the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency have been shut down through parliamentary rulings. — The Indiana Citizen