Brewer signs legislation to fund redistricting commission through next month's trial - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Brewer signs legislation to fund redistricting commission through next month's trial

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Posted: Friday, February 8, 2013 6:05 pm

The Independent Redistricting Commission is going to get the cash it needs, at least enough to get it through a trial set to begin next month.

Without comment, Gov. Jan Brewer on Wednesday signed legislation giving the panel an extra $500,000 on top of what the agency was given at the beginning of the fiscal year last July. Lawmakers approved the funding last week.

But the cash infusion is unlikely to be the last request. Ray Bladine, the commission's executive director, had sought an extra $2.2 million to make it through this budget year.

Bladine said the money is needed to prepare for a trial in federal court. The commission is defending itself against Republican interests who contend that the panel drew the lines for the state's 30 legislative districts in a way designed to benefit Democrats at the political expense of GOP interests.

That lawsuit alleges that the commission ignored legal requirements to keep the districts equal in population. Had the commission followed the law, the challengers contend, several of the districts would have had more Republicans than the ones that were drawn, increasing the chances for GOP candidates.

In the 2012 election, the first using the new maps, Democrats picked up four seats in both the House and Senate.

The Legislature itself has a separate lawsuit in federal court against the commission, created by voters in 2000. That one contends the part of the allowing the panel to also draw lines for the state's nine congressional districts is an unconstitutional usurping of the Legislature's own powers.

No date has been set for a trial in that case.

A third lawsuit in state court challenges also the congressional map, though for procedural reasons. That case, too, is awaiting action.

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