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Wardner: Stay with 47 districts

2009-0521-ND-StateCapitol.jpg

North Dakota's Senate Majority Leader believes the number of Legislative districts should remain at 47.

A special committee on redistricting will start its work later this summer, and will redraw the lines based on Census data that will become available in August. The committee will also discuss the number of districts.

Sen. Rich Wardner (R-Dickinson) said he believes 47 has worked very well for Legislative districts. Wardner also said at 47, some rural districts will be lost, and areas with growing population will see districts added.

"The only place with an increase in population that could be considered 'rural' would be in the Watford City area, and in Williams County, north of Williston and into Tioga," Wardner said. "There's a lot of people there. And there's no question a district will be added there."

Wardner also said he expects the special session on redistricting will be called in early November.

Tentatively, the session would begin November 8th.

Wardner says the Census information will be ready for the redistricting committee in August.

"With the new technology -- computer programs that can help in figuring out where the population is -- it's not going to take us as long as it has in the past," Wardner said. "It'll help in figuring out where the lines have to go, and making sure we've got the correct number of people in each district."

Wardner said once the Census data is available, hearings will begin. He said many will be in-person, but with video conferencing available.

"They (the Committee) can move things more quickly with video conferencing," Wardner said. "People can tune in to the meetings, and see what they're talking about."

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