Rep. Steven Harris

Rep. Steven Harris, R-Meridian

A House panel voted along party lines today to introduce a proposal to add a seventh member to the commission that draws legislative district lines, writes Post Register reporter Nathan Brown. That seventh member would be chosen by a majority vote of the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, controller and superintendent of public instruction. Given the state's political divides that would have the effect of adding a Republican to a commission that is split evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

Idaho voters passed a constitutional amendment in 1994 creating a six-member Commission for Reapportionment, with two each appointed by majority and minority legislative leaders and two by the chairmen of the state's two largest political parties. It replaced a frequently contentious process that poisoned relationships between lawmakers and led to maps that were often challenged and overturned in court. You can read Brown's full story here at postregister.com.

The proposal drew immediate condemnation from legislative Democrats. “Put simply, this will gerrymander Idaho, and make Idaho even more partisan,” House Minority Leader Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, said in a statement. “Our current system ensures collaboration and fairness."

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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