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Redistricting Committee votes to create two House subdistricts

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Dave Thompson, Prairie Public
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Rep. Terry Jones (R-New Town) speaks to members of the Legislature's Redistricting Committee

The Legislature’s Redistricting Committee has endorsed the idea of having House subdistricts in those districts that serve two of the state’s Native American reservations.

Affected would be District 4 – which includes Fort Berthold, and District 9, which includes the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa.

Rep. Terry Jones (R-New Town) is one of the District 4 House members. He appealed to the Committee to reject the subdistrict idea.

"The people of District 4 voted overwhelmingly for us to represent them," Jones told the Committee Wednesday. "I would ask what business anyone has to change the game for those people who voted for us. I have full faith in our performance in making sure we are treating the Native American population in District 4 fairly and equitably, and they have adequate representation."

Jones appeared before the Committee Tuesday as well to plead that case.

"To subdivide a small portion of the state, based on something to do with a sovereign nation, that stands up and claims 'We're soverign,' but they want special treatment in the Legislature, the answer from me and my constituents is 'Thank you, no,'" Jones said.

Sen. Ray Holmberg (R-Grand Forks) made the motion to create the two subdistricts.

"I have come to believe that doing this is doing the right thing," Holmberg said.

Holmberg said there are legal arguments that creating the subdistricts would be in the spirit of the Voting Rights Act.

"But doing this is the right thing to do, in our relationships with our Native populations," Holmberg said.

The vote was 10 to 6. It will be up to the full Legislature to make the final call, during a November special session.

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