WUOMFM

Democrats propose redistricting overhaul

Jul 15, 2015

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Democrats in the Legislature are calling for changes to how legislative districts are drawn.

The effort is built off a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. The decision says voters can take the power to draw district lines away from the Legislature and hand it to an independent commission.

Right now in Michigan, the Legislature draws the maps for Congress and the Legislature. Democrats say Republican majorities have used the process to their advantage.

State Rep. Jon Hoadley, D-Kalamazoo, says if the Legislature doesn’t tackle redistricting reform, there could be a ballot drive. 

“The point is, it needs to get done,” he says. “So, if we can’t get it done here in the Legislature, it’s probably a symptom of that broken political system, and, ultimately, if someone decides to take it to the ballot, hopefully it’s a version I can support. I won’t know until I see it.”

Hoadley wants the Legislature to put the question on the ballot. He says the current system is not fair to voters.

“How do we make sure that voters are picking which politicians they want instead of politicians picking which voters they want in their districts?”

Hoadley and state Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, have submitted legislation to create a Michigan redistricting commission.

A House GOP spokesman says the legislation will go through the usual process of being assigned to a committee. It would be up to the committee chair to decide if and when a hearing will be held.

Hoadley says if the Legislature and its Republican majorities don’t tackle redistricting reform, he would not be surprised if a petition drive didn’t try to put the question on the 2016 ballot. Some progressive groups are already making plans around that possibility.