State Rep. Bartlett: House Republicans pay only lip service to idea of redistricting reform

March 20, 2017 John Bartlett

INDIANAPOLIS – After his plan to continue a study of independent redistricting of legislative and Congressional districts in Indiana was rejected today, State Rep. John Bartlett (D-Indianapolis) said House Republicans were only interested in paying lip service to the idea of election reform, despite overwhelming public support for it.

House Republicans voted down a proposal offered by Bartlett that would have continued the work of a Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting for another two years. Bartlett attempted to offer the proposal to Senate Bill 293.

“For the past two years, a bipartisan group of lawmakers and private citizens have been studying the need for removing partisan politics from the process of drawing districts for the members of the Indiana General Assembly and our Congressional delegation,” said Bartlett, who served on the first version of the interim committee on redistricting.

“That study demonstrated that the people of Indiana wanted this reform, because the way we run elections now is stagnant,” he continued. “Hoosiers have gradually lost interest in the election process, because they feel the power resides entirely with the party that is in control of the Legislature. The legislators are picking the voters, rather than the voters picking the legislators.

“What they want is an independent commission that draws up the maps for our elections,” Bartlett said. “Our committee suggested that reform, and a bill outlining the proposal made it all the way to the House Elections and Apportionment Committee, where the chairman (State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus) refused to give it a vote, even though the idea drew support from a large crowd of citizens.”

Since the legislation died without a vote in committee, House Republican leadership said redistricting reform is dead for this session.

“The original bill that created this redistricting study committee legislated it out of existence on January 1 of this year,” Bartlett noted. “That means the idea of redistricting really is dead, and there is no real way to provide for continued study of the subject.

“That’s why I offered the amendment to extend the life of the committee for another two years,” he continued. “It gives us a means to keep this idea alive, because the people of Indiana want it to stay alive. From today’s actions, it seems that the only people who don’t want to see redistricting reform are the House Republicans. I wonder why?”