Legislation that would create standards to draw state and federal legislative district boundaries across Indiana passed the Senate by a 42-6 vote Monday.
Senate Bill 326 allows the General Assembly to modify congressional and state district plans if they fail to comply with the standards in the bill—as long as the reasoning is documented and explained publicly. Those standards include making sure the districts are contiguous and compact.
“It is the first step. I think I even called a baby step earlier in the year, but it is the first step,” said Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, who authored the bill. “It is a step in the right direction toward the trust of the citizens of Indiana that we do the right thing and that we can show them that we’ve done the right thing when it comes to redistricting.”
The Senate, by a voice vote, also passed a resolution to study redistricting issues. It calls for statistical analysis of demographic and political data, and a study on noncontiguous precincts.
Sen. Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, said he did not support the study because it has already been studied in the past.
“Ordinarily I don’t have a problem with a study in anything except where we’ve already studied something and there’s really no need to do it again,” he said.
The issue was examined by a summer study committee in 2016, which recommended creating an independent commission to draw legislative boundaries. The bill never got out of committee in the 2017 legislative session.
SB 326 now moves to the Indiana House.