Allowing House members from both political parties to be involved in the redrawing of the 101 House of Representatives seats played a large part in coming up with a plan that appears headed for approval, House leaders said Monday.
“My whole objective was to be fair, be nonpartisan and draw these in a manner that would be fair to every representative out here,” said Rep. Dale DeWitt, R-Braman, chairman of the House Redistricting Committee.
House Democratic Leader Scott Inman, of Del City, said it shows Oklahomans that bipartisanship can work.
“We really can work together in their interest and not in the interest of partisanship,” he said.
Republicans hold a 70-31 edge in the House. This is the first time Republicans have had the majority in the House during the redistricting task.
Started in August
DeWitt started work on redistricting in August and held nine public hearings across the state. House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, named the former House Democratic leader, Rep. Danny Morgan, of Prague, as the panel's vice chairman.
“We were skeptical,” Morgan said. “This is not a perfect solution for everybody, but I think the citizens of Oklahoma ... will be pleased with the work that we've done.”
The committee broke into five subcommittees, each responsible for redrawing the lines for a particular section of the state, and then came together to come up with the final statewide plan.
Population shifted from the rural areas mostly to the urban areas of Oklahoma City and Tulsa.
“Our rural districts actually lost quite a bit,” he said. “Lines changed drastically, especially in rural Oklahoma.
“We still have a lot of our districts that come into the surrounding area of Oklahoma City and Tulsa as we did 10 years ago, but the districts in rural Oklahoma are much larger,” DeWitt said.
Legislators every 10 years redraw the House and Senate district boundaries to reflect population changes. The Senate still is working on its plan. Lawmakers must finish the task before the session ends later this month.
The plan keeps incumbents in their districts, eliminating the need for any incumbent to challenge another one.
“We said, ‘Please don't pit Democrat against Democrat to try to open up a seat or pit a powerful Republican against a freshman Democrat. Let's try to keep the members in their districts and then tweak around the edges,'