It’s too soon to tell which legislative districts will have their lines shifted by Connecticut’s population fluctuation over the past decade, members of the General Assembly’s Reapportionment Committee said Wednesday.
The period for the public to give the redistricting committee suggestions and ideas for redrawing the legislative map won’t be over until the end of August, House Speaker Chris Donovan said after meeting with members of the committee. Until the committee has given everyone a chance to speak their mind, he said he couldn’t speculate on where changes will occur.
State House districts should include 23,678 residents while Senate districts are expected to include 99,280. But the 2010 census found that some districts across the state grew while others shrunk. Residents of those districts are now either under-represented in the General Assembly or over-represented.
Unlike Congressional districts, where federal law requires to the state to strictly adhere to around 714,000 residents, the committee is allowed some leeway when drawing the lines for the state legislature. State Senate and House districts can vary by 5 percent in either direction, Sen. Martin Looney, D-New Haven said.
“It is a limited degree of discretion,” he said.
The committee agreed that they are probably not looking to change the number of state legislators. House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, R-Norwalk, said they are likely keeping the numbers at 151 seats in the House and 36 in the Senate. But he said that is just a target, the committee will still consider suggestions from the public that involve changing the number.
The state’s constitution allows for between 30 and 50 lawmakers in the Senate and between 125 and 225 in the House.
Sen. President Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, said giving the public an expected number allows residents to focus their suggestions on how they believe the lines should be drawn.
Donovan said the committee has already heard some suggestions and concerns of residents at redistricting hearings held across the state.
“[We] heard from western Connecticut in terms of state rep. seats in the Greenwich area as well as the northwest corner, there were some seats there. We’ve certainly heard a lot the Bloomfield, Windsor area. Those were the ones we heard from the public about,” he said.
The Reapportionment Committee has until Sept. 15 to agree on a redistricting plan. If they do not, the four ranking legislators will pick an eight-member commission, which the governor must appoint. That commission will then choose a ninth member. The group has until Nov. 30.
If an agreement cannot be reached by that time, the state Supreme Court gains the authority to draw the district boundaries itself.