Big Sky Roundup

Legislature’s committee on redistricting schedules public hearing for Jan. 17

By: - January 12, 2023 9:23 pm

A tentatively adopted legislative map, prior to amendments, displayed outside a public hearing held at the Capitol on Dec. 10, 2022. (Photo by Nicole Girten)

The newly formed Special Select Committee for Redistricting announced the upcoming hearings in which lawmakers will be accepting public comment on the map proposed by the redistricting commission during its first meeting Thursday.

The legislature has 30 days to get its recommendations on the proposed legislative map back to the Districting and Apportionment Commission. The clock started ticking on Saturday when the commission submitted its latest proposal to the legislature.

The current schedule for hearings and deadlines as discussed in the meeting are:

Jan. 17 at 2 p.m. (or following adjournment in both the House and the Senate): Hearing for the select committee to take public comment on the proposed legislative map.

Jan. 20 at 8 a.m.: The committee will hold its work session, followed by executive action on the recommendations. Chair of the redistricting commission Maylinn Smith will be in attendance.

Feb. 6: Deadline for legislators to submit their recommendations to the commission.

Staff recommended lawmakers send their recommendations by Friday, Feb. 3, or Saturday, Feb. 4.

Select Committee Chair Mike Cuffe, R-Eureka, said that written testimony would be most helpful to the committee if speakers want to comment on specific districts in the proposed maps.

“We’re going to encourage, as much as possible, folks put their recommendations down on paper,” he said.

House Minority Leader Rep. Kim Abbott, D-Helena, commented on the high volume of public input the redistricting commission has received already and noted Commissioner Jeff Essmann’s ask that the legislature take a look at the districts drawn in Eastern Montana.

Cuffe said the committee’s recommendations will be heard in both the House and State Administration Committees.

The redistricting commission will receive the recommendations from the legislature but is not obliged to incorporate them. Chair Smith told Lee Newspapers that she will more heavily weigh bipartisan recommendations into the proposed map.

The latest map from the redistricting commission is available online at https://mtredistricting.gov/.

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Nicole Girten
Nicole Girten

Nicole Girten is a reporter for the Daily Montanan. She previously worked at the Great Falls Tribune as a government watchdog reporter. She holds a degree from Florida State University and a Master of Science from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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