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Resident Input Sought in Redistricting

This year, the governor and the GOP-dominated legislature locked horns on how to redraw Congressional and legislative districts, which could greatly alter Minnesota's political landscape.

Residents are invited to give input into how the state’s new congressional and legislative district lines should be drawn.

Every 10 years after the census, the Legislature is charged with changing the legislative and congressional lines to reflect population shifts. However, for decades, the contentious political process has led the courts to redraw the lines, and this year is no exception.

Draw the Line Minnesota Redistricting Commission is a joint project of the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota. The commission has been holding meetings across the state to help residents get a better understanding of the redistricting process and provide an opportunity for input. Burnsville and other 2nd District residents will have their opportunity to meet with the commission at Burnsville City Hall at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28.

According to the Commission’s website, the organization has two goals:

(1) to produce maps through a fair, open and participatory process that can inform that courts about this year’s maps; and

 (2) to model a process that can inform discussions about reform after this year’s redistricting.

The 2010 census showed that Minnesota will retain its eight congressional seats; however, the districts will need to be realigned so that each contains the ideal population of 662,991.

The state is also divided into 67 Senate districts and 134 House districts. The average House district contained about 36,000 people.

Burnsville could be significantly impacted with any redistricting plan because the neighboring district (Shakopee) has grown to more than 50,000 making it the largest House district in the state, meaning lines will need to be shifted.

Minnesota’s Republican-led House and Senate passed a bill that proposed to reshape the 7th and 8th districts, which would align east to west instead of the current north-south. DFLers called this an attempt to give the GOP greater influence in the traditional DFL strongholds.

Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed the plan that would have also greatly changed the legislative districts to a GOP advantage. A new plan now falls to the courts, with a decision needed by Feb. 21, 2012.

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