Colorado Reapportionment Commission reveals final state legislative district maps at public hearing today

The Colorado Reapportionment Commission (charged with drawing our state legislative districts) has completed the semi-final set of legislative district maps for Colorado, having heard public testimony in meetings around the state throughout the month of August, and will be discussing competing versions for both state House and state Senate legislative districts in hearings today, at the Legislative Services Building (Hearing Room A) on 200 East 14th Avenue Denver 80203 (located just across the street to the south of the Colorado state Capitol building) starting at 11.  (Click here for meeting agenda)

The maps are only semi-final at this stage because the commission’s membership is split nearly equally between Republican and Democrat appointments (5 each) with an unaffiliated chair, Mario Carrera, as the 11th (and frequently tie-breaking) member, and each side has submitted their own version of a proposed “final” map (one each for House and Senate state legislative districts) which will be discussed in the Monday meeting.

Colorado’s state legislative district map semi-finalists:

State House legislative districts:

State Senate legislative districts:

Following Monday’s meeting, at which these maps will be discussed, the commission will have one more week to make any final adjustments to “tweak” the maps before holding a final vote at another public meeting next Monday, the 19th.  The commission must submit the final, approved maps to the Colorado Supreme Court for review of constitutionality no later than October 7th.

It is likely that much of Monday’s discussion, and next Monday’s final vote, will center around how each map meets (or fails to meet) Colorado’s constitutional criteria for drawing state legislative district boundaries.

The following quick-reference summary of constitutional provisions controlling how Colorado’s legislative districts are drawn is provided with a view towards informing public comprehension of what are sure to be both contentious and complex discussions.

Colorado Constitutional Requirements:

  • Equal population (with no more than 5% deviation;  ideal district size – Senate: 143, 691, House: 77,372) (Colorado Constitution Article V, Section 46)
  • Counties cannot be split unless necessary to achieve equal population between districts

Except when necessary to meet the equal population requirements of section 46, no part of one county shall be added to all or part of another county in forming districts.  Article V, Section 47(2)

  • Municipalities may not be split unless necessary to achieve equal population between districts (Article V, Section 47(2))
  • Districts must be as compact and contiguous as possible, and consist of whole precincts

(1) Each district shall be as compact in area as possible and the aggregate linear distance of all district boundaries shall be as short as possible. Each district shall consist of contiguous whole general election precincts. Districts of the same house shall not overlap. (Article V, Section 47(1))

  • Finally, communities of interest – ethnic, economic, cultural, demographic, trade area and geographic – are to be preserved whenever possible

(3) Consistent with the provisions of this section and section 46 of this article, communities of interest, including ethnic, cultural, economic, trade area, geographic, and demographic factors, shall be preserved within a single district wherever possible. (Article V, Section 47(3))

Note that per a previous Colorado Supreme Court ruling (In re: Reapportionment of the Colorado General Assembly), these criteria are listed in order of priority – i.e. there’s a hierarchy of constitutional criteria which must be satisfied in order for legislative districts to pass constitutional review.

Additional references:

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