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House passes redistricting bill, with two subdistricts

2009-0521-ND-StateCapitol.jpg

The North Dakota House has approved a Legislative redistricting plan – complete with two House subdistricts.

Those two districts are on the Fort Berthold and Turtle Mountain reservations. They were created, in part, to head off any potential legal challenges.

Rep. Terry Jones (R-New Town) made a motion to divide the question, with the intent of eliminating the subdistricts. He called creating those subdistricts “racial gerrymandering.”

"You're just simply taking a group of people, and saying, 'These guys are basically of the same ethnic or racial characteristics, and we are going to create this subdistrict for them," Jones said on the House floor. "It's wrong."

But Rep. Austen Schauer (R-West Fargo) – a member of the interim Redistricting Committee – told the House South Dakota had to set up subdistricts, after the courts ruled against that state's redistricting plan.

"Let's put our state in the best possible position to defend itself, if we are sued," Schauer said. "Let's do what's right — both legally, and in support of our tribal friends, who are also North Dakotans."

The House voted 54 to 37 to keep the subdistricts in the bill. After a few more attempts to send the bill back to committee failed, the House vote on final passage was 73 to 16.

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