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Indiana lawmakers plan redistricting session later this year

April 17, 2021 GMT
Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, right, R-Martinsville, speaks with Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, during a Senate session on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Supporters of boosting Indiana's cigarette tax expressed frustration Friday after Bray said Senate Republicans would not include the tax increase in their state budget plan being released next week. (AP Photo/Tom Davies)
Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray, right, R-Martinsville, speaks with Senate Minority Leader Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, during a Senate session on Thursday, April 1, 2021. Supporters of boosting Indiana's cigarette tax expressed frustration Friday after Bray said Senate Republicans would not include the tax increase in their state budget plan being released next week. (AP Photo/Tom Davies)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers have approved a plan for returning to the Statehouse later this year in order to approve new election districts.

The House and Senate both voted Thursday in favor of a bill extending the current legal deadline for adjourning this year’s legislative session from April 29 until Nov. 15.

Legislative leaders say they plan to end this year’s regular session in the coming week and then bring all lawmakers back later in order to determine new congressional and General Assembly districts.

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The redistricting data isn’t expected to be released by the Census Bureau until August, at the earliest. The legal deadline for turning in the redistricting data was March 31, but the Census Bureau said it needed more time because of operational delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for consideration.

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 rejected giving up control of redistricting.