Group drawing new legislative boundaries stalls

With Jan. 1 deadline looming, bipartisan panel cancels meeting



The bipartisan commission mapping new districts for state and congressional lawmakers canceled a meeting scheduled for Friday, giving up hope they would be ready to present maps of proposed congressional districts.

“We hoped for something today,” Slade Gorton, Senate Republican appointee to the Redistricting Commission, said early Thursday. “We’ll report on something of a more tangible nature tomorrow.”

By the end of Thursday, however, the commission’s two bipartisan teams charged with drawing the new legislative and congressional boundaries had not yet made enough progress to proceed with Friday’s meeting.

They meet again at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday in Olympia. It’s unclear whether they’ll have anything to show for their work.

Their primary question in the decennial redistricting is where to place a new 10th Congressional District in the state. The state will gain the extra seat due to population growth.

That decision could have minor effects on Southwest Washington’s 3rd Congressional District represented by Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Camas.

Commissioners held a meeting Thursday for apparently no other reason than that it had been scheduled and to report, without any evidence to show, that they have made progress toward a Jan. 1 deadline. They planned to continue working on the maps Thursday after the meeting adjourned, fueling hopes that maps or partial maps could be presented Friday.

Hopes of a Friday presentation were dashed late Thursday.

However, commissioners sent mixed messages about the likelihood of that happening.

“I am concerned about the public’s opportunity to comment, as the draft maps are delayed, before the -final date of Jan. 1,” J. Paul Wagemann, a Lakewood resident, told the commission during Thursday’s -public comment period.

No new maps have been presented since the commission’s last meeting Dec. 16 when they unveiled two new legislative maps for Western Washington, including Southwest Washington.

Final maps must be submitted to the Legislature by Jan. 1. Otherwise, the task of redistricting falls to the courts. The Legislature can alter them only by 2 percent and must have two-thirds of the vote in both the Senate and the House to do so.