While Rep. Milo Smith may have shut down our opportunity for redistricting reform this session, he certainly didn't succeed in shutting down the growing number of activists who want to get involved in our efforts for reform. If anything, he has increased our numbers. Thanks Milo!
Democrats in the Indiana House of Representatives have made several attempts to amend redistricting reform language into Senate bills on 2nd reading - their efforts have been ruled out of order by the House leadership and since Democrats are in a super-minority there is little recourse. We expect Senate Democrats to make similar efforts and they will also fail, for the same reasons.
The major problem we faced in the House is that the redistricting reform bill came up at the same time that the House majority leadership was twisting their members' arms to support tax increases for road funding. Since so many of their conservatives caucus members have pledged to never support any tax increases, it was a tough sell for the leadership to get their caucus in line behind their budget package. When it came time to twist arms for redistricting reform they received more pushback than expected and weren't really willing to go to the mat for redistricting reform.
The good news is that legislators are hearing about their failure to advance reform this session in meetings with constituents across the state. We've heard from several who have been surprised how many people are now talking about this issue. That means we are having an impact, and must keep it up!
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
We'll be working hard over the interim to continue building grassroots support for redistricting reform and need your help with those efforts. We also need to build a bigger team of legislators who are involved in working on this issue and willing to do some of the heavy lifting when it comes up next year. Here is the plan:
1. Public meetings with citizens and legislators this summer to educate both on the need for redistricting reform in Indiana and to present our coalition proposal for reform. While we need to hold these meetings across the state, we will be reaching out to our allies in several key communities to ensure that events are organized. Those VIP areas are Columbus (home to both the Elections Committee chairs), Indianapolis, Hamilton County, Fort Wayne, New Albany/Jeffersonville, Porter County and Elkhart County. Just because your area isn't on the list doesn't mean it's not important so please plan on helping to organize a meeting in your community. Suggested format is a panel discussion using the short version of Gerrymandering the Movie to start. We suggest not including current legislators on the panel (that will come later) but using experts from organizations who are coalition members. Legislators should be invited to attend to learn and hear from their constituents on the issue but should not be presenters.
2. Please save the date of July 17th. That's Elbridge Gerry's birthday and we want a variety of events (press conferences, rallies, parties with birthday cake) around the state to draw attention to redistricting reform. We'll be working with activists in Columbus to give Rep. Milo Smith a special award on that day - so we want a bunch of satellite events around the state that day to magnify attention on the person who did the most to advance gerrymandering this year.
3. We'll hold a Citizen Activist training on Saturday, April 29 from 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at First Friends Church, 3030 East Kessler Blvd., in Indianapolis. The curriculum will be modeled on our well-received Citizen Lobbyist trainings we did in February, but we'll expand the program a bit to include sessions on working with the media and building coalitions. If you want to attend, please email Julia at email@example.com. Lunch will be provided.
4. Thanks to Women4Change volunteer Betsy we've developed a prototype for the Name the District game. Basically it's like an ink blot test - Betsy blew up and cut out images of some of the more bizarrely shaped state legislative districts and mounted them on foam boards. Volunteers have carried them around the State House and asked people "What does this look like to you?" We've gotten a lot of interesting, and funny, responses and also generated conversations about the need for redistricting reform. This activity can be easily replicated and would be perfect for county fairs, farmers markets, tabling events, etc. Let us know if you need help getting started. We hope this activity will inspire some of our artistic activists to turn the district images into artwork. We would love to have a State House display of "gerrymandered art" next session.
5. We are looking for ways to raise money to purchase yard signs. But first, we need a catchy slogan short enough to fit on a yard sign. Suggestions welcome. Here are some current ideas: Fair Districts, Fair Elections Indiana Needs Redistricting Reform Tell Your Legislators to End Gerrymandering End Gerrymandering Competition is Good For Elections - End Gerrymandering Have a preference - let us know. None of the above? Come up with something else and let us know!
6. In the fall we will hold town meetings in cities around Indiana, at least one per Congressional district and targeting areas with legislators on the Elections Committees. All legislators will be invited and will be asked to state their position on redistricting reform. We will develop a pledge for reform that legislators will be asked to sign to indicate whether or not they support redistricting reform. It will be important that these meetings be well attended by the public, so start thinking now about groups you might collaborate with for an event like this.
The Indiana Coalition for Independent Redistricting Reform hosted a press conference on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at the Statehouse.
Speakers included representatives from Common Cause, League of Women Voters, Hoosier Environmental Council, Women 4 Change, Enterprise Republicans, Citizens Action Coalition, and Indiana Friends Committee on Legislation.
Our message was this:
We're not going anywhere.
The issue of redistricting reform is bigger than any one politician or party. This fight is about creating the best democracy possible and we're in it for the long haul.
What are YOUR next steps?
Use this fact sheet and these talking points, as well as background materials found on our website, so that you might educate legislators and the public. Our number one job between now and next year is to re-dedicate our efforts in recruiting more citizen activists across the state and educating our legislators on the importance of an independent redistricting commission.
We can -- and will -- succeed!
Click here to reference the LWVIN's policy position on redistricting.
Learning more on how to testify and present the case for redistricting.
Rally in front of the State House prior to the Committee Hearing
House chambers filled to capacity in support of HB 1014
Please call Rep. Smith (and your legislator) to demand a special committee meeting before Monday so that HB1014 can receive the vote it deserves.
Milo Smith Representative | District 59 Contact Information Phone: 317-232-9620 Phone: 1-800-382-9841 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you Tweet about this issue use #inlegis and tag your legislators.
We also encourage you - TONIGHT - to draft a citizen letter to the editor to your local paper. We need bright public attention on redistricting reform immediately to keep hope alive. Committee reports are due Tuesday and legislators typically do not work on Fridays. Time is running out.
As always, be respectful but firm in your position: Redistricting Reform NOW!
Need talking points? Click here.
This is the League's top priority in 2017 Legislative Session. The bill to watch at this stage is HB1014, co-authored by Speaker Brian Bosma and Rep. Jerry Torr (Chair of the Interim Study Committee). Redistricting Issue Advocate Debbie Asberry and our partners at Common Cause are currently working to build relationships in the Senate where we anticipate a chillier reception than in the House. Stay alert for upcoming action.
Click here to reference the LWVIN's policy position on redistricting.
For the past several years Common Cause Indiana and the League of Women Voters of Indiana have hosted a good government seminar at the State House in December. The focus this year will be efforts by plaintiffs in Wisconsin and North Carolina to challenge their states' district maps on the grounds that they violate voters' 1st and 14th Amendment rights to freedom of speech and due process. If successful, these lawsuits would make partisan gerrymandering illegal.
We'll hear directly from attorneys arguing these cases. Ruth Greenwood with the Campaign Legal Center will discuss the Wisconsin case and Emmet Bondurant, a partner in the Atlanta law firm Bondurant Mixson and Elmore will discuss the North Carolina case. They will be joined by Common Cause National Redistricting Dan Vicuna.
For more information about the Dec. 2nd seminar and to register, please go to www.commoncause.org/states/indiana. Proceeds will support Common Cause Indiana's work on redistricting reform.
We were unable to pull together a coalition meeting for Legislative Organization Day next week but are planning a training event for the first day of session in January. Stay tuned for more information on that soon. Hope to see you on Dec. 2nd.
The Special Interim Committee on Redistricting appointed by the Indiana State Legislature in 2015 met for the third time on July 7, 2016 in the House Chamber at the Indiana State House to standing room only. Michael Li, Senior Counsel with the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law School provided testimony in person and Ed Cook, who is one of the Iowa Legislative Services Agency staffers in charge of the process in that state provided the committee with information via Skype.
On July 8 in West Lafayette a redistricting workshop was held to share and strategize next steps for shaping the final recommendation of the Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting to the State Legislature which is due December 30, 2016. Attendees discussed and strategized activities to communicate our message and engage communities in this vital effort. In addition, ideas were shared to refine and share plans for a map-drawing contest designed to engage citizens, particularly students, and provide publicity opportunities.
The latest meeting of the Study Committee was held on September 19th, where the coalition presented its proposal for redistricting reform. Great progress is being made but there is more to do. Attend the final meeting of the Commission and let you representatives know you want change. Learn more about the October 17th meeting here.
On Monday, Oct. 17th the Special Interim Committee on Redistricting voted 8 - 3 in favor of recommending that redistricting reform be adopted by the General Assembly. Although the draft recommendation is not perfect and needs some fundamental changes, it gives us a place to start. Had the committee not supported reform, our chances of even getting a bill filed would have been greatly reduced. Several committee members acknowledged the large numbers of citizens who attended committee hearings and communicated with them about reform. Our constant presence and large numbers got their attention and had a major impact on the committee. Let's give ourselves a pat on the back.
But, that was just round one. We've got a long way to go and clearly a tough row to hoe in the Indiana Senate. We are making plans for a coalition meeting and lobbying/social media training on Legislative Organization Day on November 22, 2016 - more details to come. Meanwhile, savor this victory and get ready for an even bigger battle ahead!
You can read the committee final report and recommendation here.
City and County Officials Passed the League Resolution in support of an Independent, Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission for Indiana. THANK YOU. Check out the pictures and the resolution here.
Here are two definitions of importance and links to learn more about the process.
"Apportionment: The process for allocating representative seats within a geographic area or political jurisdiction according to changes in population. For example: Seats in the United States House of Representatives are distributed among the 50 states according to each new Census, with states that gain population receiving more seats and those that lose population getting fewer."
This applies not just to Congress but also to all state voting districts. Links to all current districts can be found at the Tippecanoe County Board of Elections and Registration.
"Gerrymandering: Redrawing district lines in such a way as to create a particular result."
LWVIN, LWVGL and other Indiana Local Leagues are targeting the redistricting process for action. Go to the LWVIN website for details and resources to learn more about the process and read the 2013 revised LWVIN Redistricting Position. The Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting established by the Indiana State Legislature during the 2015 General Assembly is reviewing contact the League at email@example.com.
Learn more about why removing legislators from the redistricting process is critical for protecting Democracy. Watch this short movie Gerrymandering 101.
Check out the November 15, 2015 broadcast of Politically Speaking. The topic for discussion - 'The Election Process and Local Policy Impact'.