Curt Webb, Republican state representative from Providence, has a new job. He is one of 19 legislators and 14 Republicans appointed to the state’s redistricting committee.Every 10 years, the redistricting committee uses census population figures to draw up new political boundaries. The state is already predominantly republican, and some people fear it will become even more so through political “gerrymandering,” or drawing up political districts to favor one party over another.Webb said the committee is asked to redo boundaries so that every district has approximately the same number of people within those boundaries. He said some districts where most of the Democrats live have been getting larger.”As they get bigger, then what will happen is they may end up taking in each others’ districts to the point where some of those people may lose their seats. That’s not gerrymandering, that’s what the law says,” Webb said. “You’ve got to have a district so big, and because they’re landlocked, they ‘ll just push into each other and may lose a seat or two. That’s not politically motivated. That’s just the way the system has to work.”Chairman Kim Burningham of Utahns for Ethical Government said the group would like to see a totally independent redistricting committee so there would be little or no impartiality. In a KVNU interview, Webb said the Constitution calls for the Legislature to decide when and how boundaries should be changed.”The framers of the Utah Constitution felt that it was important that the legislators do it. It gives you 104 legislators, who are elected, making a decision rather than other people who may be appointed. The framers felt that was probably a better way to do it, and I concur.Webb said everyone has biases, even if they are part of an independent committee.The redistricting committee will also be involved with developing boundaries for Utah’s new fourth seat in Congress. The state qualifies for the new seat because of its increased population.
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