State Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, has filed a package of legislation aimed at changing the way legislative districts are drawn in Indiana.
His goal is to change the Indiana State Constitution to set up an independent commission to help draw district maps.
“Voters should pick their elected officials. Elected officials should not pick their voters,” Delph said.
The joint resolution (SJR 2) and Senate Bill (SB 136) were filed together. To change the constitution, both the Indiana House and Senate must pass identical legislation before sending it to Hoosier voters during the next election.
“It’s designed intentionally to be difficult,” Delph said. “There’s a constitutional roadblock that has to be addressed.”
Currently, the General Assembly redraws district lines every decade after each federal census, but Delph wants to change that. He said districts are often drawn to keep certain elected officials in office, resulting in zig-zagging district maps that cover an usually shaped geographic space.
“You want to get communities of interest together,” he said.
Delph said he’s filed legislation on this issue every year since 2009 and noted it is a frequent topic of discussion in his town hall meetings with constituents. Although voters recently elected Donald Trump as president in a “change election” and that the public appetite could be open to new rules, Delph said he’s heard requests for redistricting reform for years.
“I get asked every year to pursue this,” he said. “I’m doing my job, and I’ve been asked to advance this.”
Delph said the issue has never been a partisan. Democrat Tom Sugar, a former chief of staff for former Gov. Evan Bayh, has been working on a similar proposal to change redistricting.
“Filing this legislation as a package is the only way to truly create a non-partisan redistricting system,” Delph said. “I am determined to keep communities together rather than splitting up territory based solely upon the number of Republicans or Democrats in the area. I will continue to advocate for a process that truly focuses on the needs of those who are affected most.”
In the end, he said this is something he believes his voters want.
“The government is of, by and for the people,” he said.