ECM Editorial Writer
Legislative gridlock is on people’s minds, particularly after the embarrassing battle on raising the debt ceiling and the recent Minnesota government shutdown.
Most Minnesotans are at a loss when it comes to actions to replace the cast of legislators in the Minnesota Legislature and in the Congress. That’s because they don’t know how, when or where to get involved with the process.
A very important step is under way now. It’s the need to redistrict the seats in the Legislature and the Congress. The Legislature is charged with changing the boundary lines of districts that have too many people in them, according to the last population census.
The problem is political party-sensitive legislators draw the lines to assure their re-elections and keeping their party in power.
So far that process is moving slowly, and it looks as if those lines will be drawn by the court.
The Legislature, dominated by Republicans, presented a plan to Gov. Mark Dayton who quickly vetoed it saying he wants a plan that has bipartisan support and public involvement.
The Legislature has up to Feb. 21 to pass a redistricting plan and send it to the governor for his signature. That’s not likely to happen.
Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea already has appointed five members to the Judicial Commission.
Average Minnesotans throw up their hands figuring they’ll never be able to get involved with redistricting legislative and congressional districts.
The League of Women Voters along with other groups has started a Citizens Redistricting Commission.
This commission has planned eight public meetings to find out what kind of districts the public wants. Then, they will come up with a redistricting plan and take it out to the public for reaction.
Members hope to present this plan to the court that will make the final decision on what congressional and legislative districts will look like.
The last time a special committee appointed by the Legislature drew up a plan for the courts, experts say it affected the final decision.
The work of the Citizens Redistricting Commission is to be commended, and it will only be as effective in coming up with a fairer redistricting plan as the interest taken in it by Minnesotans.