Arizona Legislatures seek to change redistricting panel
Feb. 28, 2018
Steve Yarbrough, President of the Arizona Senate, and J.D. Mesnard, Arizona House Speaker, discuss their plans to change the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
The idea to expand the redistricting commission came from Yarbrough. He says that recently Democrats have “seized control” of the commission, and it has not been operating in an independent fashion.
“The results were not fair nor competitive,” Yarbrough says. “[Democrats] only ended up with three competitive districts, but the results were not fair. [There is a] 8.8 percent deviation in population between districts [that] is fundamentally not fair. I think we need to get rid of that kind of deviation.”
Yarbrough’s final plan that he brought to the floor was increasing the current commission of five people – two from each major party and one Independent – to a commission of nine – three for all three parties. He proposes that two of the Independents be chosen by legislative leaders, which wasn’t a favorable idea on the floor he says. It may come down to the appellate court commission to vet the independents and choose them.
Mesnard co-sponsored the proposal. He sees that the one Independent in the current commission has too much power in their swing vote, and it’s “inappropriate.” He mentions that other states have shown success in having a 3-3-3 redistricting commission setup.
“I suspect there is flexibility with making that process [of choosing the Independents] as apolitical as it can possibly be,” Mesnard says. “The real big ticket items are you need to expand the commission to nine and have more equal districts because without that it is fundamentally unfair.”
Related: Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, spoke on Horizon last night on why he disagrees with the idea of expanding the commission.
Besides working together on changing the commission, the House Speaker and Senate President are also composing a code of conduct together following the expulsion of Don Shooter from the house on sexual harassment claims.
“I wish it [a code of conduct] weren’t necessary,” Yarbrough says. “I wish we can have it against the rules to be stupid. Apparently that isn’t efficient so we’re going to have to define some of the things that make up stupid.”