Now this is interesting...
A side and B side Districting

From the Aberdeen American News:
Split house districts may be proposed
Associated Press

A subcommittee of the state Constitutional Revision Commission has decided tentatively that all legislative districts for House members be split in two.

The proposal, which will be reviewed by the full commission when it meets again next spring, would establish two House districts within each state Senate district.

Currently, each of the state's 35 legislative districts elects one senator and two at-large House members, except for a huge district in northwestern South Dakota. District 28 is split into two House districts.

Mary McClure Bibby, a former seven-term Republican legislator and head of the subcommittee studying the legislative boundary-making process, says split House districts would be especially beneficial in sparsely populated areas of the state that now require very large districts. Often candidates from the larger towns in rural districts have the political edge over those from rural areas, she says.

"This would divide that district into two districts which would be more equally accessible and give more opportunities for people in the less-populated areas to be elected," McClure Bibby says.

Read it all here.

I'm generally a little suspicious about tinkering of this nature. Arguably, tinkering didn't work so well with term limits. This proposal has the consideration of districting areas within Senatorial Districts, much as the ACLU/Federal Government likes to do whenever they decide to challenge how the State of South Dakota redistricts after the census.

I'm tossed up on this, because I do believe in basic fairness. But where is the outcry for it? Think the legislative process has fractured relationships now? Wait until you put this into effect.

I think it's going to erode the practice of negotiated compromise to help ensure that all interests within a district are served. I predict you'll find house members much more parochial in interests just for the sake of survival. And that's parochial within their larger district.

I don't even want to go into the battles for those legislators who like to switch chambers from the senate to the House.

Unfortunately, despite the possibility of infighting within a district, I think we're going to be stuck with this. Because of what was done in the 1991 redistricting, it's probably inevitable.

When the legislature carved up District 28 in 1991, they created an unequal situation setting this district apart from all others in South Dakota. All across the state, everyone gets to vote for two House members (typically from among 4 choices). Except in District 28. In areas A and B, they vote for one (usually out of two).

That sets them up as being different from the rest. It's an unbalanced situation where they are unequal to any other legislative district - or voter - in South Dakota. And this trend continues - it looks like it's to be considered again with Judge Karen Schreier's plan to reconfigure districts 21, 26 and 27, making District 26 an A&B area.

Districts 26 (proposed) and 28. For the choices available to voters, unequal to every other legislative district in the state. And somewhere, sometime, it's entirely possible that a judge at some level is going to take note of that difference and rule accordingly.

So whether we like it or not, it's probably coming to a legislative district near you.


Anonymous said…
Does she honestly believe that having 70 house districts will make better legislating?? I think the idea needs to be shelved indefinitely. It won't work. Talk about nightmare recruiting for the legislature. The only possible scenario in which it would work - is if the total number of districts were first cut in half (18 Senate) then halved again for the house side (36 House). Bringing the total # to 54 instead of the current 105. Talk about a money saver. But that still would be an absolute nightmare - cause then they would want full-time legislature. As it is ... most people in SF & RC do not know which district they vote in, do not confuse the voters more.

Did anyone else foresee these kind of suggestions being offered when the const. review committee was formed? wow. Dahlin said it might not make it out of committee. I wonder why?

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