House GOP rejects Hatfield’s proposals to provide independent, nonpartisan redistricting
For immediate release:
March 20, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana House Republicans today prevented a vote on a proposal from State Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville) that would have given an independent, nonpartisan commission the power to draw districts for the Indiana General Assembly and our state’s congressional delegation.
House Republicans voted down Hatfield’s attempt to place the independent commission in Senate Bill 417. If the measure had been approved, the nonpartisan commission would have been in place to draw new legislative and congressional districts after the 2020 census.
“The people of Indiana want election reform,” Hatfield said. “There is an increasing belief that elections for the Indiana House and Senate and the U.S. Congress are non-competitive, and the result is voter turnout numbers that are among the worst in the nation. Hoosiers feel that the system is rigged, and there’s no reason to keep taking part.”
A bipartisan study committee that has examined redistricting reform the past two years recommended creation of an independent commission to take over the task, but legislation outlining that change died in the House Elections and Apportionment Committee when the committee chairman (State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus) refused Hatfield’s call to take a vote on the bill, despite the measure drawing resounding public support at a committee meeting.
“Right now, there is no vehicle for the type of election reform that has been demanded by the people of this state,” Hatfield said. “The study committee went out of existence earlier this year, and there is no way to implement its ideas unless we amend the idea into an existing bill. My amendment would have enabled the House to make a clear statement that this body believes an independent redistricting is needed, and it would have given lawmakers another two years to figure out the make-up of that commission.
“Now we have nothing, and the people of this state have a right to feel cynical about these actions,” he noted. “Do the people in charge of the Indiana House really want election reform through independent redistricting, or are they simply willing to pay only lip service to the idea? Folks deserve action, not just more political talk. I hope we have many more opportunities to continue this debate before the 2017 session ends next month.”