KEEPING HOUSE July 18, 2011
|Utah Governor Gary Herbert has announced that he will convene a special session of the Legislature on Wednesday, July 20.
Under the Utah Constitution, the governor has the authority to call the legislature into special session outside of the regular January-to-March annual general sessions when necessary. Governor Herbert has specified six different subjects that will be addressed on Wednesday. They include alcohol regulations, prison relocation, employer insurance premiums, judicial performance evaluations, municipal bond financing, and a resolution supporting a balanced federal budget.
The proposed legislative measures are considered to be minor and technical in nature. Because the special session has been scheduled for the same day as legislators' regular monthly interim committee meetings, no additional expenditures or travel will be necessary. Another important topic of interest currently unfolding at the Utah legislature is the once-a decade redistricting process.
The Utah Constitution requires that the legislature divide the state into federal congressional districts and state legislative districts based on population within one year after receiving the results of each national census.
In April, the Utah Senate President and Speaker of the House appointed 19 legislators to serve on a redistricting committee. The committee includes six senators and 13 representatives. Overall, there are fourteen Republicans and five Democrats.
For the past several months, the committee has been holding meetings across the state, inviting local leaders and citizens to attend and give input.
The most notable change in the state legislature that will arise from this year's redistricting process will be a shift of legislative influence from rural and well-established districts to suburban, high-growth areas. For example, one area near the border of Salt Lake and Utah County will see its Utah House membership jump from one to four.
For nearly two centuries, rules for redistricting state legislatures in the U.S. were left entirely to state officials. Starting in the 1960s, the U.S. Supreme Court inserted itself to impose constitutional requirements on the process.
The Court ruled that, unlike the allocation of seats in the U.S. Senate, which are based solely on state boundaries, senate and house seats at the state legislative level must be equally apportioned based on population.
Utah's current population of 2,763,885 will be divided into 29 state senate districts and 75 state house districts.
When the redistricting process is concluded, all state senate districts must contain approximately 95,306 people, and all house districts 36,852 people, with a variation of no more than 3.5 percent from these totals in any district.
The state legislature is also responsible for drawing boundaries for our federal representatives in Congress.
The U.S. Census Bureau has certified that Utah increased sufficiently in population between 2000 and 2010 to be allocated an additional seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. This will bring the total of Utah's House seats to four.
With this newly-awarded fourth House seat, the state will be divided up into four congressional districts containing approximately 690,971 people each, with no more than one tenth of one percent difference in population from district to district.
After the redistricting committee finalizes its recommendations this summer, the state legislature will meet in special session this fall to debate and adopt the new district maps. The redistricting committee has scheduled two upcoming meetings for this area of the state. One will be held on Tuesday, July 26 at 11 a.m. at the Uintah Basin Applied Technology College in Vernal. The other will be held that same evening at 6 p.m. at Park City High School in Park City. Public comment will be taken at both meetings.
I encourage my constituents to attend one of these hearings to learn more about the redistricting process and give your input on the proposals. More information, and an interactive tool that you can use to draw your own proposed redistricting map, can be found online at www.redistrictutah.com.
As always, please feel free to contact me to express your thoughts pertaining to this or any other legislative matters.
My email address is email@example.com and my phone number is 435-657-0185.
BY REPRESENTATIVE KRAIG POWELL