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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Scrutinizing a new possibility

By Curt Bramble
Senate Majority Leader-Elect

In this morning's blog we started grappling with concerns about staging an immediate special session to redraw congressional district boundaries with almost no prep work.

Today we met with the governor and it appears that Congress' deadline has been extended to early December. That's better. But is it enough extra time to do the job right? Does the fact that a different party will soon control the U.S. Congress make a difference in the equation?

The House and Senate will be evaluating this in caucus tomorrow. I'd love to have your thoughtful input.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have two problems with this whole proposal.

First, the plan further shifts the power away from states to the Federal government. DC is not a state. Its interest is almost always aligned with that of the Federal Government. It therefore adds a vote to the powers of the Federal Government at the expense of state interests. With the balance of power so predominantly in favor of the Federal Government, do we really want to give it an additional PEMENANT voice in Congress?

Second, I see no political gains for Utah in the plan. If we bring in DC and Utah together, DC will almost always vote against us, thus Utah gains nothing. If Democrats try to bring in DC alone, Republicans have enough votes to block a veto override. If we then wait four years, Utah most likely gains a 4th seat anyway, and we really gain a vote in Congress.

It appears to me we are playing right into the liberals hands. They give Utah 4 additional years of votes and gain a PERMANENT voice for big government in Congress. Help me see what I am missing.

Shane S. Schulthies

11/15/2006 11:15 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

Utah deserves another congressional seat, and despite what Shane Schulthies has said about its possible bolstering, or lack thereof, to Utah's clout, I say let's do what we can do to get it now.

I think that the state legislature should devote as much time as needed now to get us this seat. Besides, if it does not work later for the Republicans, gerrymandering is always possible.

11/15/2006 12:39 PM  
Anonymous Homer said...

Mmmmmm. Gerrymandering.

11/15/2006 12:57 PM  
Anonymous Brian Watkins said...

I'd love to have your thoughtful input.

Now we have to be thoughtful? Okay, Senator.

Last time around the legislature tried to break up communities of interest instead of consolidating them. The purpose was to get rid of Jim Matheson. That didn't work, so don't do it again. Try to keep like communities together.

The best thing for Utah would be two competitive (slight Republican lean, between R+0% and R+4%) districts and two strong R districts (R+20% to R+35%). That way the competitive districts can have competitive general elections (and even Republican representatives will have to moderate some to survive). Furthermore the strong R districts can have spirited primary fights if citizens are dissatisfied without fear of losing the seat to Dems. Competition in elections is best for citizens. Let's not be like California where everything is mapped out beforehand and exactly one Congressional election in the past 159 has changed party hands (and that one only because of a corruption scandal).

But we won't get the seat if Jim Matheson doesn't get a safer seat himself. The bill simply needs bipartisan support to pass in the lame duck. So we're left with the prospect of a Dem district which means the other three have to be Republican districts. So try to keep cities and communities together. Put northern Salt Lake with Carbon, Summit, and Wasatch for Jim. Keep a northern Utah district for Bishop. Add Utah to southern Salt Lake for Cannon. And draw one big rural district from Cache to Dixie to the Uinta Basin, plus Eagle Mountain and Santaquin so that we'll have a real rural Utah district for once. I don't like this plan much, but it keeps communities together and it's necessary to get our bill passed in D.C.

11/15/2006 2:03 PM  
Blogger Daniel said...

I agree on keeping communities together. If someone is going to be a representative, they need to have a cohesive district to represent.

Also, since Sen. Bramble is against an independent commission, I would argue Utah should at least have a bipartisan commission. Put an equal number of Republicans and Democrats on the commission, and make them stay in a room until they can agree. Maybe then we'll have a map that is not gerrymandered.

11/15/2006 2:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with Daniel. Bipartisan Commission. But should membership be equal or porportional? Democrats represent one-quarter to one-third of the state. How is it fair or democratic to give them control of fifty percent of the vote on that commission?

11/15/2006 3:59 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

It's not fair. That's why it's bipartisan.

If Republicans had 75-80% of the 'commission,' it would be no different than what happened in the full legislature last time. It would be a partisan 'commission' with democrats looking on and shaking their head, but not being able to do anything about it.

What needs to happen is several different maps are proposed, just like in the case of the Supreme Court ruling one texas district unconstitutional for violating the Voting Rights Act. In that case differrent groups offered their own maps; Republicans, Democrats, Independent Commissions, Interest Groups, Hispanic and Afro-American advocacy groups all created their own maps and the Supreme Court looked at them all and took what they thought was best from each.

If the lege only proposes one map, how is the public supposed to debate it? There's nothing to compare it too, except NOT having a 4th seat. Making it a win, win for republicans. Don't think we aren't stupid enough to figure out what's going on.

And to those who think that D.C. shouldn't have a vote. Try having Salt Lake City, or Provo even, run by the U.S. Congress. If you think Utah schools need help now, just give Congress complete authority over a city and see what happens. That's why D.C. needs a vote. They don't even really have a say as to how their own City is run. I say give D.C. and Puerto Rico a voice in both chambers. There's enough room on the flag for 52 states.

11/15/2006 5:08 PM  
Blogger Alienated Wannabe said...

I am concerned about the Constitutional questions raised by the District of Columbia gaining a seat in Congress. I am not convinced that it is legal without amending the Constitution.

Remember, during the Carter Administration, just such an amendment was proposed. But, it was rejected by the majority of state legislatures in this country. The people spoke through their elected representatives acting within our system of Federalism. The answer was "no."

Now, this latest effort appears to be trying to do an end-around the Constitution, robbing the individual state legislatures of their rightful voice in the matter. Thus, beyond being a short-sighted power grab for Utah and the District of Columbia, the proposed legislation is also a power grab by the Federal Government over the individual states.

The District of Columbia was created as kind of a neutral territory, fully controlled by the states together--the United States--not the local population. Inch by inch, it now appears to be gradually creeping toward all the rights and powers of statehood.

That reality would create a completely new dynamic which may not be in the best interest of the nation as a whole. We have learned from sad experience that the Law of Unintended Consequences frequently comes in to play with such things.

Have we really thought this thing through? Do we really want the seat of our national government controlled by a local government over which we have no power? That appears to be where we are going. But, that is not the vision provided by the Constitution.

Ironically, Utah, of all places, is pushing for this undermining of the Constitution, because we want a fourth seat so badly. But, why? Honestly, how much are we really going to get out of it? I personally can wait four years until the next census, if doing so helps to preserve Federalism in this country.

Granted, as a Republican, I am not eager to see such a geographically small, and extremely liberal, area gain so much power in the Senate. (Once the precedent of granting DC representation in the House is established, there ultimately will be no basis for denying it full Senate representation.) But, my position is not based upon political expediency. I am honestly concerned about the principle of Federalism in this country and the loss of a neutral seat for our national government.

11/15/2006 10:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think what people like Shane Schulthies need to remember is that it is NOT about liberals and conservatives. That is just politics. This is about people, representation and fairness. Not vulgar positioning and scheming.

This seige mentality has to go. So do people who like to talk like that, this is no way for our State to progress in the 21st century.

We need unifiers not dividers with outdated practices.

George Wyth (or Wythout)

4/18/2007 3:02 PM  

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