5:41pm

Mon May 16, 2011
Politics

Colorado Legislative Redistricting Begins Amid Bi-Partisan Promises

The state legislature may have failed to redraw Colorado's U.S. Congressional districts. But a separate commission now taking its shot at redrawing state legislative house and senate districts says its ground rules are different and thus partisan fights could be minimized. 

Legislative leaders, the Governor and the Colorado Supreme Court’s chief justice appoint the commissioners, which include five Democrats, five Republicans and one unaffiliated voter.

As work began in earnest Monday, former Republican lawmaker Rob Witwer pledged that the group will come up with a strong map and work well together.

"The reapportionment process is much more guided by rules than redistricting," Witwer said.  "My hope is that the law will direct the reapportionment commission for much of its work and there will be minimal
opportunities for partisanship."

Democratic member Arnold Salazar of Alamosa echoed similar ambitions.

"We've grown by 726,000 people across the entire state," Salazar said. " Depending on who those people are and what their needs and interests are it's important they be represented by officials who have their interests at heart."

Most of Colorado's growth over the last decade has happened along the northern front range and the state’s western slope and the commission is charged with equalizing that population in statehouse seats.

The commission will meet weekly over the next month. A final map is expected by December which must then be approved by the state supreme court.