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Redistricting panel rejects proposed rule on private talks

July 3, 2021 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico’s new redistricting committee has rejected a rule proposed by its chairman to bar or require disclosure of members’ conversations with non-members about maps for new congressional and legislative districts.

Retired Supreme Court Justice Edward Chavez had included the proposal in his suggested package of rules for the committee and said it would provide transparency, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

The proposed rule would have prohibited committee members from engaging in private communication with non-members about a proposed district plan or part of a plan. Any such communications that occur would have to be reported to the chairman and disclosed at the next public meeting.

The proposal was criticized by conservative activists and left-leaning community groups, with concerns being raised about discouraging participation from people who couldn’t testify at a public meeting.

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Committee member Lisa Curtis said the rule exceeded what was outlined in the state law establishing the committee and it wasn’t appropriate to treat the group’s work as a judicial proceeding.

“I want to have an open door policy with the public,” she said.

The committee on Friday accepted the rest of Chavez’s rules package.