Oregon Legislature Called into Special Session for Redistricting
SALEM, Ore. – Gov. Kate Brown is calling the Oregon legislature into special session to adopt new congressional and legislative district maps.
In April, citing the delay in the release of crucial census data, the Oregon Supreme Court handed down a unanimous decision giving the legislature until Sept. 27 to agree on the new political boundaries.
The Census Bureau released a version of that data in August and is expected to release an easier to use version of the data in coming days.
Brown said Friday she wants the legislature to convene on Sept. 20 at 8 a.m., to reapportion the districts based on newest population numbers and trends.
“In Oregon, we believe your vote is your voice, and every voice matters,” said Brown in a written statement.
“This special session is an opportunity for legislators to set aside their differences and ensure Oregon voters have their voices heard at the ballot box,” she continued. “Based on my conversations with legislative leaders, and the ongoing public testimony we are hearing from Oregonians across the state this week, I believe the Legislature is ready to begin the next step of the redistricting process.”
Every 10 years the legislature is tasked with reconfiguring the lines for 30 state Senate and 60 state House districts.
This year, due to a surge in population in the state over the past decade, they’ll also be drawing a new Congressional district, giving the state six in total.
Earlier this week, the state House and Senate redistricting committees held back-to-back virtual hearings to collect testimony and input on eight different proposals for drawing the districts, which will be used for the first time in the 2022 elections.
In all, the committees expect to hold a total of 12 public hearings on the map, before submitting a single plan to the legislature.
If the legislature approves the new maps, it will then send them on to the governor for her consideration.
If the legislature and the governor can’t come to an agreement on a finalized set of maps, the Oregon Supreme Court would give Secretary of State Shemia Fagan a shot at drawing the state districts.
A special five-judge judicial panel would draw the congressional districts.
Last month, Fagan invited all Oregonians who are at least 16 and have been residents of the state since April to apply for a spot on what she’s calling the “People’s Commission on Redistricting.”
She said if the task of drawing the state legislative map falls to her, she’ll draw them with input from the grassroots commission.