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Crunching the numbers: Oregon lawmakers look at redistricting’s C.O. impacts

(Update: Adding video, comments)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Oregon lawmakers held a committee meeting Tuesday night to discuss changes in county demographics, as lawmakers prepare for the once-a-decade setting of district boundaries, called redistricting.

Eight counties, including Central Oregon's Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson, were the focus of Tuesday night's virtual hearing, the second of four being held by the House and Senate redistricting committees.

To help provide some insight on the impact of reapportionment, the committee brought in state demographic experts Ethan Sharygin, director of the Portland State University Population Research Center, and Charles Rynerson, who works as coordinator of the Oregon State Data Center.

"There's also census-designated places for which we will have 2020 census data as if they were incorporated," Rynerson said. "Places like Camp Sherman, Crooked River Ranch and Warm Springs." 

Due to a decade of population growth, Oregon also was awarded an additional sixth seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first such addition in nearly four decades.

But the state's political redistricting efforts that follow a once-a-decade census have been met with challenges, due to delays in data that have been blamed on the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, states won't receive census-block data until mid to late August to help redraw House and Senate district maps.

The normal data delivery deadline is typically March 31.

Under the state Constitution, the usual deadline to redraw districts is July 1, which would be well before census data is expected to be released.

This timeline prompted both Oregon legislative leaders to request an extension from the state Supreme Court, which was approved back in April.

State Rep. Daniel Bonham (R-District 59) says he's interested in seeing more county demographics from the PSU Population Research Center.

"The county subdivisions, I find absolutely fascinating, just based on my knowledge of the area I live in and the surrounding area I do business in," Bonham said. "They certainly seem to showcase communities of common interest. So I'll be interested as we move forward through the next few counties to see in different areas of the state if different representatives feel the same way." 

If lawmakers cannot meet their deadline, the responsibility could find itself in the hands of the people, as groups are actively working to ask voters to put the process in the hands of a bipartisan citizen committee.

Some officials have also voiced concerns that the additional congressional seat and the redistricting that will follow could ultimately favor Democrats and hurt Republicans' chances of representation.

Central Oregon / Crook County / Deschutes County / Jefferson County / Local News / News / Top Stories
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Alec Nolan

Alec Nolan is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Alec here.

Comments

5 Comments

  1. The sixth Congressional district will probably be blue no matter how you cut the pie. That’s just where the population is. What will be interesting id the redistricting for state offices, as this article discusses. It’ll be more power to urban/suburban areas. I don’t like supermajorities, but it may come to that.

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