CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Legislature will continue to have 30 senators and 60 representatives for the next decade under redistricting guidelines adopted by a legislative committee Tuesday.
Members of the Joint Interim Committee on Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions also voted to stay with the current configuration of single-member districts with House districts nested in Senate districts.
The committee has the chore of adjusting legislative district boundaries to accommodate the state’s shift in population.
During the past decade, Wyoming’s population grew by 14.5 percent to 563,626.
That works out to 18,788 as the ideal size for a Senate district and 9,394 for a House district. The current ratio is 16,459 for each Senate district and 8,230 for each House district.
The committee intends to keep the deviation from the ideal size at less than 10 percent.
The committee also approved a public hearing schedule for 11 communities through August.
Rep. Pete Illoway, R-Cheyenne, the committee co-chairman, emphasized that no decision will be made at the public meetings.
“It’s going to be like Jell-o,” he said of the redistricting plan. “It’s not set yet.”
The two fastest-growing counties were Sublette with a 73 percent increase in population and Campbell with a nearly 37 percent increase. Only Platte and Hot Springs counties lost population.
Committee members said whatever changes are made in Campbell County will ripple across the state.
Another guideline adopted by the committee specified that the redistricting plan will not dilute votes of minorities and will adhere to the Voting Rights Act.
Individual legislators also may offer alternate plans that then will be presented to the committee.
Dan Neal, the executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, asked the committee to make all of the plans available to the public.
“I would hate to think that someone could come to the budget session of the Legislature and unveil a plan, especially if it’s someone in the leadership,” Neal said.
Illoway and Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, the other committee co-chairman, said the committee plan will have wide support and they don’t expect to be “ambushed.”
Illoway noted that only one plan was introduced in the Legislature a decade ago and it passed easily.
But Case also said he was unsure whether the committee has the ability to make all the plans available to the public, given the Legislative Management Council’s policy against making draft legislation public.
The management council is composed of legislative leaders who set policy for the Legislature.
Another guideline directed the committee to avoid consideration of the residencies of current legislators in drafting a plan.
Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, opposed the guideline on grounds that a plan could be devised that would force a legislator out of office.
That is a decision for voters, he said.
Scott made a motion to require the residencies of current legislators be shown on all the maps drawn.
The committee took no action on either the guideline nor Scott’s motion.
Sen. John Patton, R-Sheridan, wanted the committee to collect public input regarding the number of senators and representatives.
He said the Senate, for example, could have 25 seats while the House could continue with 60.
Scott said a Senate with less than 30 members creates a problem in committee assignments. The current system works well, he added.