While far from a done deal as committee work and district line revision takes place this week, proposed maps for the state House of Representatives and Senate, plus the U.S. House of Representatives, were unveiled last week by Republican majorities in Lansing, with Democrats decrying a quick process, not to mention what they see as an effort to oust a sitting Democratic Congressman through the redistricting process.
The state House Redistricting Committee started meeting this week, with hearings being held on the proposed maps. The redistricting process comes every decade as a result of new U.S. Census data, which was released for Michigan in April and showed that the state lost about 50,000 people, resulting in the loss of one Congressional seat and bringing the state’s U.S. House delegation from 15 down to 14.
Interested parties have 60 days to file a legal challenge against the final legislative maps — which will be posted on the Spinal Column Newsweekly’s website today, Wednesday, June 22 — under state law.
New boundaries for
lakes area districts
With the lakes area being divided up legislatively at the state level, House and Senate Republicans have offered up plans that would change — in some cases — the communities some area lawmakers currently represent.
Perhaps the biggest local change at the state House level under the House GOP’s proposed map, Orchard Lake would be thrown into the 29th state House District, whereas currently the posh community’s residents are represented by state Rep. Chuck Moss (R-Orchard Lake), whose district primarily includes the swanky suburbs of Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, and Bloomfield Township. The 29th District, as it is currently drawn, would also represent Pontiac, Keego Harbor, Sylvan Lake, and Auburn Hills. That district would represent 87,992 residents, 2.07 percent less than the 89,851-resident baseline lawmakers were working with.
The 38th House District would represent 91,796 residents in Walled Lake, as well as Novi, Northville, Lyon Township, and South Lyon, whereas the district currently represents Walled Lake and Wixom in the lakes area.
The 39th House District, on the other hand, would cover the western half of West Bloomfield Township, along with Commerce Township, Wixom, and the Village of Wolverine Lake, serving 91,796 residents. The district is currently served by state Rep. Lisa Brown (D-West Bloomfield, Commerce, Wolverine Lake).
With 91,620 residents, the 40th state House District would represent the eastern half of West Bloomfield Township, along with Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills and Bloomfield Township.
The 43rd House District — the bulk of Waterford Township, along with Independence Township, Clarkston, and Lake Angelus — would have 93,564 residents, the largest district, population-wise, in the lakes area.
And the 44th state House District, which would cover the southwestern portion of Waterford Township, along with all of White Lake, Highland, and Milford townships, would have 92,893 residents, making it the second-largest state House District in the lakes area.
Lakes area residents would also have new state Senate districts. The 15th Senate District (257,980 residents) would no longer represent Highland Township, but would continue to include White Lake, Milford, Commerce, West Bloomfield, Orchard Lake, Walled Lake, and Wixom. The 14th Senate District (248,755 residents) would cover the entirety of Waterford and Highland townships, but the bulk of the district would be in the northern portion of Oakland and southern portion of Genesee counties.
Peters: Proposal is
Under the House GOP’s proposed U.S. Congressional district map, the lakes area would continue being served by two representatives in the U.S. House, with the 11th District covering Commerce, Walled Lake, Wixom, Milford, Highland, White Lake, Waterford, and the northwest portion of West Bloomfield. The 14th District would represent the southern to northeastern portion of West Bloomfield, as well as Orchard Lake.
The proposed district lines didn’t sit well with two Michigan Democrats serving on Capitol Hill who would be forced to square off against each other in a primary election under the proposed districts.
“Voters in Michigan have never before faced such a shamelessly partisan redrawing of congressional boundaries,” said U.S. Reps. Gary Peters (D-Orchard Lake, Waterford, West Bloomfield) and Sander Levin (D-Southfield) in a joint statement. “Instead of drawing fair lines that follow community and county borders in a logical way, the Republican Legislature has drafted a map so skewed that it exploits every trick in the book to gerrymander districts in ways that benefit Republican incumbents. The Legislature and Gov. (Rick) Snyder should reject this gerrymandered map and draw congressional boundaries in a way that puts Michigan voters’ interests squarely ahead of flagrant partisan advantage.”
Dems: GOP rushing
The proposed maps, in addition to the consternation they’ve caused over the lumping of Levin and Peters in the same U.S. House district, have ruffled the feathers of House Democrats, who say that the process is being fast-tracked to shirk public input.
“By now, we know this is what to expect from House Republicans — rushing legislation through with no time for thorough examination by residents or the legislators who represent them, and no time for meaningful public input or debate,” said state Rep. David Nathan (D-Detroit) in a press release, a member of the House Redistricting and Elections Committee. “There are no good explanations for wanting to complete Michigan’s redistricting plans so quickly. If it’s to prevent public scrutiny and input, that’s unacceptable. If it’s to put fellow legislators at a disadvantage, that’s unacceptable. And if it’s to take a summer break sooner, that’s definitely unacceptable.”