This week, legislators were given an eight-page report from the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission, based on testimony gathered during 10 virtual public hearings that drew about 900 participants across the state.
But by Friday, most of the legislative leaders contacted by TheStatehouseFile.com did not comment on the report, which offers suggestions for the Indiana General Assembly as it prepares for the redistricting process in the fall. This process takes place once every 10 years, using new national census information to redraw congressional and state legislative districts.
Among those declining to discuss the report were Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston R-Fishers, Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (above), R-Martinsville, and the chairmen of the House and Senate election committees who will play a key role in the redistricting process, Rep.Timothy Wesco, R-Osceola, and Sen. Jon Ford, R-Terre Haute.
But a redistricting commission member said Friday that Bray voiced some support for the report’s recommendation at an Indiana Chamber of Commerce board meeting on Thursday.
Bray said there are “a number of good recommendations that I believe we will be able to do” while pledging openness and transparency around the state, according to Marilyn Moran-Townsend, a member of the Indiana Citizens Redistricting Commission who is a past board chair of the Indiana Chamber.
“I am optimistic about the response so far, and I know that our commission looks forward to engaging with legislators to support their work. I believe we all want the same thing: a redistricting process that is transparent, inclusive and aligned with the wishes of voters,” Moran-Townsend said.
Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said he had read the report and agreed there needs to be transparency with the public.
“The community needs to know what’s going on because this is something that determines the district for the next 10 years, and all I ask for and will continue to ask for is this: There’s transparency with the public about what we’re doing,” Taylor said.
He also encourages Hoosiers to contact their legislator and demand that they allow them to submit their own versions of the maps for congressional and legislative districts.
“The problem with this whole process is that we’re going to be back doing what we did before, which is allowing legislators to choose their constituents, but we all know that democracy works better when people choose their legislator,” Taylor said.
Tabby Fitzgerald is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.