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Utah Senate committee pass changes to redistricting measure

March 2, 2020 GMT

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah state Senate committee approved a bill with changes to a voter-approved initiative creating an independent voting redistricting commission.

The Proposition 4 initiative passed by voters in 2018 is aimed at curbing gerrymandering, a process of manipulating voting districts unfairly to gain an advantage, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Members of the Senate Business and Labor Committee voted unanimously for the bill, which loosens the initiative’s legal restrictions on the redistricting process.

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The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Curt Bramble directs the commission to adopt its own rules for fair, nonpartisan voting maps and enables lawmakers to disregard those maps.

The commission composed of seven members appointed by the governor and legislative leaders will formulate redistricting recommendations to share with the Utah Legislature following the U.S. Census, which occurs every 10 years.

Bramble said the bill was the result of more than a year of negotiations between Republican and Democratic lawmakers and Better Boundaries, an advocacy group that promoted Proposition 4 in 2018.

Better Boundaries claimed negotiations broke down last month because the Legislature was poised to adopt a full repeal of the proposition, a characterization disputed by legislative leaders.