Census delay points to special session for Indiana lawmakers
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A delay in the completion of data from last year’s census has Indiana legislative leaders anticipating a special session over the summer to draw new maps for congressional and General Assembly districts.
The Indiana House and Senate leaders said Thursday that they were disappointed the delay won’t allow redistricting work to be done before the planned adjournment of the legislative session in late April.
The U.S. Census Bureau is aiming to deliver populations figures used for divvying up congressional seats by the end of April, with legislative district information sometime after July. The census data was supposed to be ready by the end of 2020.
“At the end of the day, it means we’ll be here after July, trying to figure out redistricting, what those districts look like,” Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said.
State lawmakers face the once-a-decade task of drawing new districts for congressional seats, along with the 100 Indiana House and 50 state Senate districts, based on population shifts.
Democrats and voting-rights advocates have pushed for the establishment of an independent commission to oversee the map drawing, arguing that partisan gerrymandering has helped Indiana Republicans to gain outsized power in the Legislature. But the Republican-dominated House and Senate have shown no signs of giving up control of redistricting.
Bray and House Speaker Todd Huston both said they expected the Legislature would decide the congressional maps by overriding a current state law turning that process over to a partisan commission if those districts aren’t decided by the end of April.
It isn’t clear how long a special session for redistricting could last. A legislative report estimates a two-day session would cost about $69,000.