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DFL releases Minnesota legislative map proposal, though court will likely decide fate

The ideal legislative district population in Minnesota increased in the last Census from 39,582 to 42,586.

FSA Minnesota Capitol 2019
Michael Brun / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — Minnesota House Democrats released their proposed map for new legislative districts Friday, Nov. 19, as state lawmakers work on a tighter-than-usual timeframe to adjust districts to align with the 2020 Census results.

It’s the first look at a struggle over redistricting in the state that will likely be settled in court — as has ended up being the case in Minnesota for the last five decades. The Minnesota Supreme Court in June appointed a panel tasked with redrawing the state’s legislative districts if lawmakers can’t get a proposal to the governor by the Feb. 15 deadline.

The ideal legislative district population in Minnesota increased in the last census from 39,582 to 42,586, and DFL lawmakers said their process of adjusting all the state's districts took into account community input, grouped areas with shared interests and kept tribal areas whole.

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“The House has been steadfast in gathering all the information we needed to draw fair maps ahead of the 2022 session and are committed to doing all we can to deliver a bipartisan result to the governor,” House Redistricting Committee Vice Chair Rep. Ginny Klevorn, DFL-Plymouth, said at a virtual news conference Friday morning before the committee released its proposed map.

GOP lawmakers hadn't had enough time to fully review the proposed map Friday afternoon, but the House Redistricting Committee's top Republican, Rep. Paul Torkelson, R-Hanska, said it appeared to pit more incumbent Republicans against each other in the same districts than it did Democrats.

Multiple lawsuits had already been filed before the redistricting process began, and while lawmakers can propose district maps, the five-judge panel is already taking steps to move forward with the task on its own.

However, the actual court-guided redistricting process can not move forward until there is a districting bill, said committee chair Rep. Mary Murphy, DFL-Hermantown.

Lawmakers have been holding public input hearings on the redistricting process for the state’s 67 Senate districts and 134 House districts, as has the court-appointed redistricting panel. The sessions have been happening concurrently because of the compressed timeframe, Murphy said.

Typically, lawmakers get new population data by January or February the year after the census, Murphy said. This year, the data didn’t come until August, meaning a much tighter turnaround.

It’s highly unlikely the map proposed by the DFL will be the final map that ends up on the governor’s desk in early 2020. Minnesota Republicans have not yet unveiled their own proposals, but if they release maps they will likely come in early December, Torkelson said.

The House Redistricting Committee is holding public testimony on the proposed legislative map on Dec. 1 and 2.

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The committee plans to release its map for the state's eight Congressional districts Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 23.

Follow Alex Derosier on Twitter @xanderosier or email aderosier@forumcomm.com .

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