The House of Representatives took about 10 minutes early Saturday to approve a bill that would create an independent seven-member commission to redraw election district boundaries.
Under Senate Bill 304, passed on a vote of 64-2, commission members would be chosen by state House and Senate leaders from both parties, as well as the State Ethics Commission.
The commission will hold at least six public meetings to gather public input and draft three possible district maps for each of the following political seats: U.S. Congress, the Public Education Commission, the state House and the state Senate.
The commission would then submit the plans to the Legislature to consider during a special session to be held late this year.
Redistricting is required once every 10 years, and the stakes are high as the process can determine who holds political power in a particular region of the state.
Redistricting is designed to ensure the number of people in each voting district remains fairly equal. It is based on national census data, but because the coronavirus pandemic caused delays in the release of 2020 census numbers, states won’t have that information to start the redistricting process until late September.
The bill requires the committee members to be appointed by July 1, 2021.
The vote, which came after midnight, was the House's last action before adjourning for the night. The chamber was set to reconvene at 8 a.m.
The session ends at noon Saturday.