Redistricting subcommittee hold hearings around state |

Redistricting subcommittee hold hearings around state

DENVER (AP) Members of a state legislative subcommittee on redistricting agreed Friday to take their show on the road, saying it is important to hear what voters around the state see as the top priorities in Congress.

Sen. Terry Phillips, D-Louisville, said water, agriculture and tourism have created major communities of interest whose voices should be heard before the Legislature begins redrawing lines for congressional districts in a special session beginning Sept. 20. Lawmakers also will add a seventh congressional district based on the state’s population growth in the 1990s.

Phillips said redistricting committees in a number of states have decided to take road trips to get voter input, unlike previous years when legislators made the public attend central hearings.

”I think it’s important that people express their comments and concerns,” Phillips said.

Sen. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, said the public input also will be important for a judge to review if the issue ends up in court as many expect.

Senate Democrats initially balked at an interim committee on congressional redistricting, saying the issue is so partisan that they doubt the Legislature, with the House controlled by Republicans and the Senate by Democrats, can pass a bill.

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Gov. Bill Owens called the special session on redistricting to give time for candidates to begin campaigning without having to wait until the next legislative session beginning in January. Lawmakers also will tackle growth and funding for breast and cervical cancer treatment.

The governor asked House Speaker Doug Dean, R-Colorado Springs, and Senate President Stan Matsunaka, D-Loveland, to appoint the task force to set a framework for the redistricting debate.

Senate members of the task force are Majority Leader Bill Thiebaut, D-Pueblo; Ron Teck, R-Grand Junction; and Phillips and Lamborn. House members are Rosemary Marshall, D-Denver; Val Vigil, D-Thornton; Keith King, R-Colorado Springs; and Joe Stengel, R-Littleton.

Every 10 years, congressional district boundaries must be redrawn to reflect population changes outlined in the U.S. Census. Colorado gained about 1 million people, or about 30 percent, to reach 4.3 million residents in the 2000 Census.

Hearings are scheduled for July 30 for southern Colorado, Aug. 7 for the Western Slope, Aug. 22 for Colorado Springs, Aug. 27 in Denver to hear from members of Congress, Aug. 30 for northern Colorado, and Sept. 5-6 for the Denver area.

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