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Wyoming Legislators Begin Redistricting With An Eye On Counties

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Wyoming lawmakers will be focused on trying to keep as many legislative districts within a county or within like-minded regional areas of the state. That's the gist of the first day of discussion as the legislature's corporations committee takes up the task of redistricting.

Some are urging committee members to go back to the pre-1990 days of having all legislators come from counties, but lawmakers have been told that will not meet constitutional muster.

State Senator Charles Scott says there are many areas of the state where lawmakers can come from just one county, but legislators must represent essentially the same numbers of constituents, so there will be parts of the state where they have to cross county lines to make the numbers work.

One county that wants to be divided is Lincoln, where Senator Dan Dockstader told the committee that residents in the southern part of the county have more in common with people in Sweetwater County than those in northern Lincoln County. So they would like to be tied to legislators from that part of the state.

Other concerns are places like Carbon County that saw a loss in population, meaning a Senate district may need to extend well beyond the county lines to have the right numbers. The Bighorn basin and less populated areas of eastern Wyoming are other challenges.

The committee will also explore whether 30 Senators and 60 House members are still the right number of legislators. The state Republican party would like to reduce those numbers substantially. The committee will work on the issue in the coming months and present a plan to the full legislature in 2022.

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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