‘It is a difficult, difficult process’: Special session for redistricting starts Monday for South Dakota legislators

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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Monday at 10 a.m., South Dakota legislators will meet in Pierre for a special session to discuss drawing new boundaries for the state’s 35 districts.

It’s something that happens every 10 years — redrawing legislative boundaries to fit the new state data in the census.

“We need to draw districts that are compact, contiguous, but most importantly, are as equal in population as practicable,” Senator Mary Duvall (R) of Pierre said.

“The ideal population in a district this year is 25,333 and we’ve tried to draw districts that reflect that number but also reflect the communities that would be represented,” Senator Troy Heinert (D) of Mission said.

A main focus this year was on the reservations, but also in the larger cities like Sioux Falls and Rapid City.

“The districts that include Indian reservations, you know, there are extreme amounts of case law that deal with the redistricting process in those areas,” Heinert said. “So, being a tribal member and from Mission, I focused a lot on those areas of the state.”

“Our goal was to keep the urban districts as compact as possible because, in South Dakota, the rural interests are so important. So we tried to keep those rural districts as rural as possible,” Duvall said.

The proposed maps from each chamber will go to committee tomorrow. If passed, they will go to the full House and Senate floors.

“It is a difficult, difficult process and I know all the Senators and all the House Reps have put in countless hours, you know, drawing maps and getting feedback and listening to constituents,” Heinert said.

“I know that there are some people who are not going to like it but, again, we keep going back to what the Constitution requires of us, what our state law and federal law require of us,” Duvall said.

The state constitution gives legislators until December first to come up with a map. If they can’t, the South Dakota Supreme Court will do the redrawing.

Then Tuesday, the topic will switch to a possible impeachment of Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg.
A Special Investigative Committee will meet to see if they can find any impeachable offenses against him in relation to when he hit and killed Joe Boever with his car over a year ago.

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