Congressional, state redistricting gets underway. Sort of.

By: - October 8, 2021 6:26 am

The redistricting committee’s timeline remains fluid, but a special legislative session will be held sometime in November to approve new maps. (Legislative Counsel Bureau photo)

A legislative committee focused on political redistricting convened for the first time Thursday in what is expected to be the first of several public meetings where the public is invited to learn about and weigh in on the process.

Democratic Assemblywoman Brittney Miller was selected to chair the six-member interim committee. She said the committee plans to hold at least three meetings — one in the Reno metro area, one in the Las Vegas metro area and a third in Carson City. Miller also asked legislative staff to look into the feasibility of hosting one or two additional meetings in tribal or rural communities.

All of the meetings are expected to be accessible remotely for those unable to attend in person.

Miller described the purpose of the meeting as organizational and educational — designed to inform the public and elected officials about the redistricting process. Redistricting happens every 10 years after the conclusion of the “complete count” decennial census and is intended to rebalance political districts so each represents an equal swath of the population.

No future meeting dates were approved Thursday, but the potential dates discussed ranged from Oct. 16 to Oct. 29.

The committee did not address a timeline beyond that, but it’s expected that a special legislative session will be held sometime in November to approve new maps.

Miller could not be reached Thursday night for additional comment on what the public can expect.

The state’s 15% growth over the last decade was not enough to warrant a new congressional seat. All four of Nevada’s congressional districts saw their populations grow over the past decade, but CD3 and CD4, currently held by Democrats Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, respectively, grew at a much faster pace. As a result, approximately 90,000 people will be shifted from those districts into CD1, the central Las Vegas metro area district represented by Democratic Rep. Dina Titus, and CD2, which encompasses Reno and much of the state’s rural population and is held by Republican Rep. Mark Amodei.

Based on the 2020 population, each state senate district in Nevada should represent 147,839 people. Seven districts currently have higher populations than is ideal. Fourteen districts have smaller populations than is ideal.

In the Assembly, 14 of the 42 assembly districts deviate from the 2020 ideal population size by more than 10%. Eight of those have too many people; six have too few.

Redistricting would have happened during the regular 2021 Legislative Session earlier this year but coronavirus shutdowns last year delayed the collection and release of census population data, which pushed back redistricting across the country.

Legislative Counsel Bureau staff during Thursday’s meeting also highlighted MyRedistricting, a web-based application where the public can design their own political maps for consideration by lawmakers. The app allows users to cross reference political data and demographic data to assist in their drawing.

So far, five proposals for new congressional districts have been submitted to the website. One map maker noted their proposal emphasizes communities and achieved three urban districts with minority majorities. Another prioritized keeping entire counties, excluding Clark, from being divided into more than one congressional district.

Serving with Miller on the redistricting committee are state Sens. Fabian Donate (D-Las Vegas), Pete Goicoechea (R-Eureka) and Roberta Lange (D-Las Vegas), and Assemblymembers Teresa Benitez-Thompson (D-Reno) and Glen Leavitt (R-Boulder City). Lange was voted vice chair of the committee.

Meanwhile, down ballot…

The redistricting process is underway across the state.

  • Clark County held a community meeting earlier this week and unveiled two proposed maps, which are available for review on the county’s website.
  • Washoe County is seeking input on its proposed maps by Oct. 15. Residents submit comments via an online or paper survey.
  • The City of Reno this week held two community meetings to gather input on its proposed maps.
  • The Henderson City Council introduced two proposed maps (Agenda Item 43) at their meeting this week. Those maps will be discussed at the city council’s next meeting.
  • The Clark County School District has already held the first of a series of meetings across the valley about its proposed maps.

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April Corbin Girnus
April Corbin Girnus

April Corbin Girnus is an award-winning journalist with a decade of media experience. She has been a beat writer at Las Vegas Sun, a staff writer at LEO Weekly, web editor of Las Vegas Weekly and a blogger documenting North American bike share systems’ efforts to increase ridership in underserved communities. An occasional adjunct journalism professor, April steadfastly rejects the notion that journalism is a worthless major. Amid the Great Recession, she earned a B.A. in journalism from the University of Nevada Las Vegas, where she served as editor-in-chief of the student newspaper. She later earned an M.A. in media studies and a graduate certificate in media management from The New School for Public Engagement. A stickler about municipal boundary lines, April enjoys teaching people about unincorporated Clark County. She grew up in Sunrise Manor and currently resides in Paradise with her husband, two children and two mutts.

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