Lawmakers Approve New Congressional Map

Lawmakers Approve New Congressional Map

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(KSL News/AP) -- State lawmakers approved a map Monday for a proposed fourth congressional seat that would require new elections in all Utah districts if Congress agrees to the expansion.

The idea was to be ready, in case Congress says 'OK' for Utah's fourth Congressional District.

A lot of people think Utah should have four seats now, based on the last census.

The four-Congressional district map combines urban Salt Lake County with rural Morgan County in the second district.

Most lawmakers thought this was the map they would be considering: One that makes the second district mostly Salt Lake County--mostly Democrat.

The citizen legislature understands the pro's and con's of all the maps.

But to Democrats, sensitive to and powerless against boundary gerrymandering, it exposes a flaw that needs a solution.

Rep. Ralph Becker, House Minority Leader: "We have continued to promote having an independent redistricting commission."

The committee-approved map would favor incumbent Jim Matheson, but it didn't get approved without a lot of hard work, and emotion.

Representative Jackie Biskupski was upset enough at one point to walk out of a meeting.

Rep. Jackie Biskupski (D), Salt Lake City: "I think at some point you have to make a point. And that was heard."

The personal feelings run deep. After the widely regarded gerrymandering in 2000's redistricting, bad feelings among Democrats remained for a long time.

Rep. David Litvack (D), Salt Lake City: "I believe this is an issue of restoring trust among the public about the work that we do."

But not everyone likes the idea of the 'independent commission'.

Senator Curt Bramble says such non-bias would be hard to find.

Sen. Curtis Bramble (R), Orem: " I don't know how you can find someone who is independent, in other words unbiased in their political feelings, and then the question is, if there are biases, how to balance those biases and come up with a fair proposal."

The Senate passed the committee approved map this morning.

The House barely reconvened an hour ago; just starting to debate on at least two versions of the maps.

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