Just months after the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission (MICRC) completed new maps for each of Michigan’s new congressional, state senate, and house districts, a resolution was introduced to abolish the commission and return the state to a partisan process.
The resolution was introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Beau LaFave (R-Iron Mountain) and would completely remove language that created the commission and was added to the Michigan Constitution following a 2018 ballot initiative, which was approved by a majority. of almost two thirds.
“By November 1, 2031, and every 10 years thereafter, the legislature shall adopt a redistricting plan for state senate districts and state house representative districts,” states the resolution, which also includes congressional districts. “The legislature must adopt a redistricting plan through a resolution agreed to by two-thirds of the members elected and serving in each house of the legislature.”
LaFave was one of seven Republicans who filed a lawsuit against the commission in January alleging that the congressional map “fragments counties, townships, and townships” without a necessary reason. A three-judge panel of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit denied a motion on April 1 to throw out the maps, although the case remains pending.
LaFave’s resolution states that districts “must break as few county lines as reasonably possible” as well as “as few city and township lines as reasonably possible.”
He did not ask for comments.
In response to the resolution, commission executive director Edward Woods III told Michigan Advance that commissioners discussed House Joint Resolution S at Thursday’s meeting and how it can become a ballot proposition for the Michigan voters consider.
“By more than 61%, Michigan voters empowered the Commission to draw fair maps with public input,” Woods said. “Through an open and transparent process, we engaged Michiganders to participate and obtained nearly 30,000 public comments, which is unprecedented in the history of Michigan’s redistricting process.”
Woods also noted that a subsequent independent poll by the Chicago-based Glengariff Group provided comments reiterating public support.
Michigan voters, 65.5% to 10.1%, said the state should continue with the redistricting commission. However, 24.4% of voters were undecided or said both should participate.
Voters aware of the redistricting changes said 78.7% to 4.7% that Michigan should keep the redistricting commission.
“As an independent body, we believe in and respect the voice of Michiganders,” Woods said.
The effort to abolish the commission comes despite praise for the nonpartisan, citizen-led process of Michigan. At a recent press conference for Voters Not Politicians (VNP), which helped establish the commission, David Daley, author of “Unrigged” and a senior fellow at FairVote, a nonprofit organization that advocates for electoral reform, said what What Michigan achieved with MICRC was a singular achievement.
“I have never seen a transformation as complete as what we are seeing here in Michigan,” Daley said. “You’re going from one of the most rigged states in the country to a state that’s really set up to be … a gold standard for other states that are looking at their own twisted policies and trying to find a way out.”
As for the commission’s immediate future, Woods previously said it is still working through the ongoing litigation, noting that the Michigan Constitution requires that it remain intact until all legal challenges are resolved.
Meanwhile, the commission is still trying to negotiate funding from the Legislature. Woods said he will send a letter on that issue to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on General Government.
Originally published May 12, 2022 in Michigan Advance. It is shared here with permission.
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