Redistricting bill would move outside legislature for members of commission

Indiana Statehouse. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — What if you could have a direct hand in how the state’s legislative districts are drawn?

One Republican state senator claims he wants just that, when the time comes to redraw the map.

As of today, there are 50 senate districts in Indiana, according to State Sen. John Ruckelshaus, a Republican from District 30. He claims he wants to tear those lines with a redistricting reform bill.

“It tries to make it as transparent as possible and creates an independent commission that will draw the maps,” Ruckleshaus said.

Ruckelshaus said traditionally, the legislature draws up and votes on the district maps after the federal census.

“The way this would be different is, the public can apply through their public universities to be a member of this commission. Then, nine members would be chosen, as well as four members as appointed by the legislature,” he said.

In his proposal, Ruckelshaus said the bipartisan commission would draw the maps for U.S. congressional districts in Indiana, as well as state House and Senate districts. The legislature would still have to vote on the maps.

“If you’re in the minority, sure the maps are always unfair. If you’re in the majority, the maps are fair. That’s always been the system we’ve lived by. By creating a separate commission, we’re trying to take as much of the politics out of it,” Ruckleshaus said.

Ruckelshaus knows he’s in the majority, so why make the change? He points to the redistricting issue coming up in town hall meetings, and something he claims happened while he was a House representative in 1991: “The Democrats controlled the Indiana House and they drew me out. They literally went down my street, drew my house in with another representative, and I was out of the legislature. So, I’ve been a victim.”

His similar redistricting bill died in the House last session. But he’s not backing down this time.

“Sure, there’s some push back, and there’s some getting used to, but we’re gonna try,” he explained. “We’re gonna work really hard to get a hearing.”

Ruckelshaus said if this bill is approved, it wouldn’t go into effect until 2021, when the maps will be redrawn.