Idaho Senate District Proposals
Given the 20 counties with population of 155,000 (2010 census numbers) without resident representation in the Idaho state legislature, we have formulated four possible solutions as outlined below. We ask, can we say we have provided equal protection under the law when a voter in one county has 18 members of the house and 9 senators representing them and voters in 20 counties have none? "One man, one vote" does not provide equal protection by representation for rural voters under the law. Under the 1st and 14th Amendments many people are denied representation. Can we say, "Taxation without representation?" Finally we have a proposed amendment to the constitution that would cover these proposals.
Non voting delegates from non represented counties.
Having a legislative advisor from each county with no representation in the state legislature chosen by that county. It could be patterned after what the house of Representatives does for the district of Washington DC and the territories. A new position with details would need to be created. Following the general election, the County Commission in each county with no residents elected to the state legislature shall appoint a person to represent them to the legislature. Such appointed individuals shall receive a housing and /or per diem expense account from the state. Any salary received t be determined by the County Commission. After working with the legislature these non voting delegates may want to run for the legislature to represent their county with a vote. This would in effect reduce the number o f counties without representation over time.
Thirty five Senate Districts
By combining some of the lower populated counties with neighboring counties with similar interests it is possible to achieve an appropriate number of 35 Senate seats. Using the 2010 census numbers, one proposed solution would be to create Senate Districts with smaller population counties combined for a seat in the state Senate. These new units would all have more than 10,000 population and we would then have 35 Senate seats. The combined units would be: Bear Lake and Caribou Counties, Oneida and Power Counties, Adams, Boise, and Valley Counties, Clearwater and Lewis Counties, Camas, Gooding, and Lincoln Counties, and finally Butte, Clark, Custer, and Lemhi Counties. All of these Counties would also be in a legislative district with two representatives. All other counties with populations near or above 10,000 residents would have a Senator representing each of them. Gooding County would be the largest population county combined with another county. In this case Camas and Lincoln Counties had nowhere else to go and it was a natural combination. Benewah and Washington are single county districts with lower populations than Gooding and Valley which are both part of a combined county district.
A proposal for Senate Districts:
District #1 - Ada County (a), District #2 - Ada County (b), District #3 - Adams, Boise, and Valley Counties, District #4 - Bannock County, District #5 - Bear Lake and Caribou Counties, District #6 - Benewah County, District #7 - Bingham County, District #8 Blaine County, District #9 - Bonner County, District #10 - Bonneville County, District #11 - Boundary County, District #12 - Butte, Clark, Custer, and Lemhi Counties, District # 13 - Camas, Gooding, and Lincoln Counties, District #14 - Canyon County, District #15 - Cassia County, District #16- Clearwater and Lewis Counties, District #17 - Elmore County, District #18 Franklin County, District #19 - Fremont County, District #20 - Gem County, District #21 - Idaho County, District #22 - Jefferson County, District #23 - Jerome County, District #24 - Kootenai County, District #25 - Latah County, District #26 - Madison County, District #27 - Minidoka County, District #28 - Nez Perce County, District # 29 - Oneida and Power Counties, District #30 - Owyhee County, District #31 - Payette County, District #32 - Shoshone County, District #33 - Teton County, District #34 - Twin Falls County, and District #35 - Washington County.
Looking at representation numbers a voter in Ada, the most populous county, would have a possibility of 22 legislators representing them. Each legislator would be representing 22,498 people. A voter in Bear Lake County would have 3 legislators representing them and each of these legislators could be said to represent on average 22,583 people. Canyon County, the second most populous county, with 10 representatives each would represent 23,110 people. Owyhee County with three legislators each on average would represent 21,706 and for Elmore County the figure would be 27,290 people. In Clark County, the smallest county, each legislator that represents them would on average represent 18,514 people.
50 Senate Districts
Consider a State Senate with 50 seats. Even with near equal populations, representation would be closer to the voters they represent. Each district should average 36,784 people (2020 statewide census numbers).
Thinking "outside the box" the Citizen's Commission for Redistricting could create 50 State Senate Districts while keeping the legislative districts at 35 or a historical max of 44. 2020 Census numbers for the counties won't be known until fall. since this would require a constitutional amendment
Idaho Constitution be amended as follows: Article III, Section 2 . the words, "the senate shall consist of not less than thirty nor more than thirty-five members." be replaced with, "the senate shall consist of not less than forty-four nor more than fifty members. Article III, Section 4. Shall be amended by replacing the words, "thirty-five" to be replaced by the words, "fifty". Article III, Section 5. amended as follows: deleting the words, "from which one senator is elected." and adding the sentence, "Senate districts may have different boundaries than legislative districts and elect one senator ."
One Senate District per County
Each County would be a Senate District for 44 State Senators.
Be it enacted by the legislature of the State of Idaho that the constitution of the state be amended to read
Article III - Section 2. MEMBERSHIP OF HOUSE AND SENATE. (1) Following the decennial census of 2020 and in each legislative session thereafter, the senate shall consist of not less than thirty-five nor more than fifty members. The legislature may fix the number of members of the house of representatives at not more than two times as many representatives as there are senators up to the historic limit of eighty-eight members. The senators and representatives shall be chosen by the electors of the respective counties or districts into which the state may, from time to time, be divided by law.
Section 4. APPORTIONMENT OF LEGISLATURE. The members of the legislature following the decennial census of 2020 and each legislature thereafter shall be apportioned to not less than thirty-five nor more than forty-four legislative districts of the state as may be provided by law. Senate districts shall be apportioned to not less than thirty-five nor more than fifty senate districts of the state as may be provided by law.
Section 5. SENATORIAL AND REPRESENTATIVE DISTRICTS. A senatorial or representative district when more than one county shall constitute the same, shall be composed of contiguous counties and a county may be divided in creating districts only to the extent it is reasonably determined by statute that counties must be divided to create senatorial and representative districts which comply with the constitution of the United States. A county may be divided into more than one legislative district when districts are wholly contained within a single county. No floterial district shall be created. Multi-member districts may be created in any district composed of more than one county only to the extent that two representatives may be elected from a representative district. Senate districts may have different boundaries than representative districts and elect one senator. The provisions of this section shall apply to any apportionment adopted following the 2020 decennial census.