Redistricting Commission approaches deadlinePosted: Updated:
RICHLAND, Wash. --New census data shows that Washington's population grew to more than 6.7 million people, which means our state will get an additional congressional seat.
The 10th seat has forced lawmakers to re-draw the state's congressional districts, so that every district has an equal number of voters.
Dr. Lura Powell from Richland is the chair overseeing the committee. "Getting the map from the districts drawn properly, that is our core job. We have a whole lot of criteria that we need to balance, like does it make sense to draw the line one place or the other in order to keep a community together," says Powell.
The committee has until January 1st to make the decisions. Their meeting streamed live all day while they looked at the many maps proposed..and listened to the concerns of the people. Several of the issues at stake involve Yakima and the Tri-Cities. "In the Tri-Cities area, the biggest issue is keeping the city of Pasco together. Some of the maps presented yesterday split it into two districts. There was one presented today where Pasco would be kept whole," says Powell.
The city did pass a resolution to keep Pasco under one district, but there are no guarantees. Another issue that could affect Benton County is a proposal to move Prosser to another district. Powell says it's because of our large population growth in the last ten years.
The redrawing of lines could also make history in Washington, giving a district representation when a minority makes a majority of the district's population.
"Now, we're looking at Eastern Washington, the numbers are making it look like it makes sense to have a district that has more than 50 percent Hispanic or Latino population. That's really what we're looking at, we just haven't had that in the past.," says Powell.
The State Senate team did provide a congressional district map they agreed on Wednesday. The house team has not reacted to that yet.
Dr. Powell is encouraging comments and concerns and if you're interested in catching those live streaming meetings, click here: http://www.redistricting.wa.gov/getinvolved.asp