Colorado independent redistricting committee approves House, Senate maps

Posted at 1:05 PM, Oct 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-13 15:05:20-04

DENVER – The Colorado Independent Legislative Redistricting Commission approved new redistricting maps this week for Colorado’s legislature, which it will submit to the state Supreme Court this week for final consideration.

The commission approved its Senate map unanimously during a meeting Tuesday night after it approved a House map Monday night in an 11-1 vote.

The maps, if approved by the Supreme Court, would keep Democrats in the majority in the House, where they currently hold a 41-24 majority, and in the Senate, where they have a 20-15 majority.

Staff for the commission had not completed reports on the maps that were adopted as of Wednesday morning. The final House map, called HA.015, was a slightly amended version of another map, called HA.013, which was tweaked during Monday night’s meeting.

According to staff analysis of HA.013 based off results from eight statewide elections since 2016, 18 of the districts would be solid Republican districts, while four others would be within an eight-point margin. Thirty-two of the districts would be strong Democratic districts, while nine would be within an eight-point margin.

Two of the districts are within a 0.5% margin between favoring Democrats or Republicans based off those averages. There are 65 state House seats in Colorado.

The Senate map that was adopted by commissioners is called SA.016 and is an amended version of the Third Senate Staff Plan and another amendment that was offered earlier in the night Tuesday. Prior analysis by staff of a similar map found Democrats would maintain an advantage in the Senate, though new analysis of SA.016 was not available Wednesday afternoon.

There would also be several tossup districts on the new Senate map, according to prior analysis, which are within a few percentage points based off the same average of eight prior statewide elections. And in both the House and Senate, should each map be approved, several sitting lawmakers would be drawn into different districts and have to decide whether to run against a colleague or move, since state representatives and senators must live in the district which they represent.

Both maps and supplemental reports will be submitted to the Colorado Supreme Court by Friday, and the court will have to issue opinions on both maps by Nov. 15. Outside groups can file challenges to the maps by Oct. 22 ahead of an Oct. 25 Supreme Court hearing.

Oral arguments were made Tuesday by groups that had filed issues with the congressional map submitted to the Supreme Court in late September. The court will have to issue an opinion on the commission’s map and objections by Nov. 1.

This is the first year Colorado has gone through the independent redistricting process for the legislature and congressional districts after voters passed Amendments Y and Z in 2018. Each panel has four Democrats, four Republicans and four unaffiliated voters on it and each final map had to be approved by at least eight of the commissioners, including two of the unaffiliated members.

Each commission held dozens of public meetings so Coloradans could discuss their priorities in the once-a-decade process, and each analyzed dozens of maps drawn by commissioners, nonpartisan staff and citizens before reaching agreement on the maps that will be submitted to the state's high court.