4th Congressional Seat in Utah Possible

4th Congressional Seat in Utah Possible

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Richard Piatt ReportingUtah could be about to get a fourth congressional seat. Governor Huntsman is heading to Washington to try and make the possibility a reality. A key hearing will take place on Thursday in the Nation's Capitol, but the process of securing another Representative for Utah has been in the works for some time.

There has been a lot of bi-partisian deal-making to get to this point. If Utah does indeed get a fourth seat, there will be a special election for a new member of Congress who would represent the whole state.

Normally, Utah would have to wait until after the 2010 Census to see if an exploding population means another seat in Congres, but in the halls of the US Capitol, there is a deal in the works. A bill, co-sponsored by every member of Utah's delegation, would create a Congressional seat in heavily Democratic Washington DC, in exchange for the fourth seat in heavily Republican Utah.

Thursday, Governor Huntsman will testify in front of the House Judiciary committee on the idea.

Governor Huntsman: "I suspect they're going to be looking for real hard, germaine, policy issues and rationale for adding another seat."

Initially, the Fourth Representative would hold an at-large seat, representing the whole state. But in 2010, the seat would become part of the redistricting process. In theory, redistricting creates boundries to reflect changes in population, but it can also become political.

Many believe that happened in 2001. That year, the Repubican-dominated Legislature created a second Congressional district with a heavily Republican population -fixed, or 'gerrymandered' to give Republicans an advantage, according to critics. Democrats are concerned the same thing could happen with the new Congressional seat

Wayne Holland, Utah Democratic Party: "We absolutly have some concerns about gerry mandering. We believe Utah should look at what Colorado is doing with non partisian redistricting and quit splitting counties and cities in two."

But naturally, Republicans don't see a reason to change.

Jeff Hartley, Utah Republican Party: "It's constitutional, it's done in most states, we're playing by the rules when we do this. And we anticipate having four seats drawn to our favor, assuming we still have control of the legislature at that time."

It's starting already and we don't even have the seat yet. As far as how likely it is Utah will get the seat, one person told me Congress wouldn't be holding a hearing if there wasn't a good chance.

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