The Joint Corporations Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee held their final redistricting public hearing for the state on Monday night in Sheridan, and Sheridan and Johnson County's Option "A" Improved plan was presented to the committee.
The meeting was the last of 13 that had been held around the state.
Option "A" Improved was put together as the result of a public meeting in Story when residents expressed the desire to be a part of Sheridan county representation. Representative Jon Botten said that the plan has the “most pros and least cons” and the plan takes the “if it ain't broke don't fix it” approach. Sen. Bruce Burns, and Rep. Mike Madden each reiterated their support of the plan.
After hearing the plan, the issue of Campbell County having too many constituents was brought up, and committee members then began discussion on how to balance county representation in the entire east part of the state.
Campbell county has experienced the highest population growth in the entire state in the past 50 years: 687 percent. (Population growth every ten years as indicated by Census data is the reason for redistricting) One option was to add some of the residents of Campbell county to Johnson county's district; not a part of Option A Improved. Sheridan County Representation all disagreed with this solution. Representative John Patton says they've had a number of meetings with Sheridan and Johnson county and John Hines, a state representative of Campbell County. Patton explains.
Hines' proposed alternative would include Campbell County adding a fifth district in order to keep all representation within the geographical area of the county. This, however, would mean residents would spill south into districts in counties all the way down to Laramie County.
Discussion continued and the several county clerks in attendance voiced their opposition to their county's respective representation being further disrupted and shared with neighboring counties. The Committee agreed that they would continue to collect redistricting plans from counties and work at creating the best plan to take to legislature in the spring.
The committee will consider redistricting plans beginning October 21 and 22 in Cheyenne.
Of the about 20 in attendance, just one was a Sheridan area resident. The rest were legal staff from the state, county clerks, and local state representatives.
For more information on redistricting, including detailed maps with each county's proposals and current representation, visit the Legislative Service Office's website. Follow the "current items of interest" link. Comment can also be submitted through the website.