The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Opinion

February 27, 2014

Kelly Hawes: It’s time to take politics out of redistricting

Odds are that a bill to form a bipartisan redistricting commission won’t pass this year.

That’s too bad.

House Bill 1032 passed the Indiana House on Jan. 21 by a vote of 77-20. The measure had the support of House Speaker Brian Bosma and even some Democrats. Minority Leader Tim Lanane is among the bill’s sponsors in the Senate.

But it’s in the Senate where the measure seems to have bogged down. It was assigned to the Senate Elections Committee, where it hasn’t gotten a hearing. If it is to pass the Senate this year, the bill must clear committee no later than today.

Indiana can’t do it alone, but if such an approach were to win support across the country, it would go a long way toward fixing this nation’s broken legislative process.

Most of us are fed up with the dysfunction of Congress. We are disappointed that our representatives and senators seem incapable of dealing with the many issues facing our country.

Many believe the problem is that too few lawmakers are willing to compromise. They have their own vision of how things ought to be done, and they are unwilling to concede any point to the other side.

This is particularly true in the U.S. House of Representatives, where way too many members come from so-called safe districts, districts where one party so outnumbers the other that the election is effectively over after the primary.

This works against an old adage in politics, which is that candidates tend to move toward the base in the primary and then move back toward the center in the general election. That means that in the spring Republicans try to convince us how conservative they are while Democrats are trying to convince us how liberal they are. In this scenario, the two prevailing candidates begin to moderate their positions in the summer and fall as they try to lure all those voters in the center.

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