My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

Posts Tagged ‘legislatures’

Two interesting articles from Maryland and Texas about prisoners and the 2010 Census…

Sunday, April 4th, 2010

From the Herald-Mail in Maryland:

Bill would alter inmate count for Census

By ERIN JULIUS

ANNAPOLIS — Washington County might lose about 6,000 people from its legislative and congressional districts because of a bill that has been passed by both chambers of the Maryland General Assembly.

The bill excludes state inmates who were not state residents before their incarceration, and requires that prisoners be counted as residents of their last known address before prison.

About 6,000 prisoners are housed in the three state prisons south of Hagerstown, a prison spokesman said Friday.

Local jail populations are not included in the bill.

All but one of Washington County’s eight local lawmakers voted against the measure.

The change in how to count the population will be relevant in creating legislative districts for the U.S. Congress, Maryland General Assembly, and county and municipal governing bodies, according to the bill.

Del. Christopher B. Shank, R-Washington, called the bill “a blatant power grab by, predominantly, the Baltimore City delegation.” Changing how prisoners are counted will benefit the Baltimore City and Prince George’s County delegations because most of the prisoners in the state prison system are from the more urban areas of the state.

Sen. George C. Edwards, R-Garrett/Allegany/Washington, also expressed concerns. Two areas Edwards represents — Washington and Allegany counties — would be affected.

About 3,000 state prisoners are held in two facilities near Cumberland, a prison spokesman said.

Another 1,503 prisoners are held by the Bureau of Prisons at a federal facility in Cumberland, according to a fiscal note prepared by the Department of Legislative Services that was attached to the bill.

After the 2000 census, the ideal population for a General Assembly district — with a plus or minus 5 percent margin of error — is 112,691. The ideal congressional district size is 662,061.

The state legislative districts are expected to increase to about 120,000 following the 2010 census, and the congressional districts are expected to grow to about 722,425, according to the fiscal note.

Edwards believes the change in population counts — taking 4,000 people out of Allegany County’s population — could push the outlines of his district, District 1, further east into Washington County because Garrett and Allegany counties are not growing, Edwards said.

However, it’s tough to judge what will happen without the numbers, and with a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percent, things might stay as they are, he said.

It’s unfair, however, because having prison facilities in its midst puts pressure on a community’s public services, Edwards said. (more…)

Redistricting & The 2010 Census

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Many state legislatures are currently engaged in partisan battles over redistricting prior to the 2010 headcount. Colorado’s Aurora Sentinel reports:

Colorado has never had a shortage of embarrassing moments under the Gold Dome. The Legislature has tried to legislate the slander of vegetables, granted state residents permission to remove tags from pillows and furniture, and make it easier to carry a concealed weapon than it is to rent a car. But lawmakers may at least ward the next embarrassing gaffe off by changing the way the state draws boundaries for congressional and state legislative districts.

State Rep. Mike May, R-Parker, is proposing the state create a single bipartisan panel that has a tie-splitting independent voter to keep things fair.

Republicans have nothing to lose by the change — this time.

In Montana, similar arguments are now dominating the state legislature. Here’s what the Flathead Beacon has to say about redistricting:

HELENA – Even lawmakers’ first steps to begin the once-a-decade process of carving new legislative districts wear the marks of the bitter partisanship that often characterized the process in the past.

Republicans on Thursday released names of their candidates for the commission charged with redrawing legislative districts to reflect new census numbers. And — surprise — all four turned out to be Republicans. Democrats, if history is any indication, almost certainly will pick party stalwarts for their appointments, as well.

This time GOP leaders have thrown a new twist into the process, with a dedicated e-mail for receiving public comment on their candidates. Senate Majority Leader Jim Peterson, R-Buffalo, said the goal is to be more “open and transparent,” but Democrats think otherwise and have no plans to do the same.

“It could get to be a partisan sort of wrangling and that’s not what the commission is supposed to do,” said Senate Minority Leader Carol Williams, D-Missoula, careful to note that she finds all the Republican nominees well-qualified.

State law says Republican and Democratic leadership in the Legislature each may select two commissioners. Those four then are to agree on a fifth member, the chairman. If the appointees deadlock on choosing the tie-breaking chairman, then a decision rests with the Montana Supreme Court.

“I was hopeful the last go round that the four would be able to agree on a chairman,” said retired Chief Justice Karla Gray, who served on the court when it nominated the swing vote in 1999. “I don’t think it’s a responsibility that the court looks forward to, but perhaps that’s just my opinion.”

Stalemates have forced the court to appoint the chairman for bickering lawmakers in three of the four most recent redistricting efforts. And those appointments have in turn led to more partisan bickering, spawning bitter charges of gerrymandering that reverberate for years.