SALEM, Ore. -- On Friday, Oregon Governor Kate Brown called for a special legislative session to redraw Oregon's political districts. That session will start Monday, September 20, and the deadline to vote on a final district map is September 27.
When District 5 Rep. Pam Marsh for the Southern Jackson County area spoke to Newswatch 12, she said, "What I am looking for is what the law asks."
"Once districts are an equal size, they are intended to group people of common interests, to the degree possible, to keep people in the same city lines or the same county lines, the same school district lines, to look at the transportation connections, and to figure out how people work and live together," Rep. Marsh continued.
Redistricting is a requirement under the Oregon constitution, triggered by the US census every new decade. Districts are then redrawn to reflect how the state's population has changed — though the details of how that is achieved can vary.
This year, the Oregon legislature agreed to form redistricting committees that were made up of equal parts Democrats and Republicans, but the ultimate decision on which plans to adopt may remain the topic of much debate up to and including the special session.
"This special session is an opportunity for legislators to set aside their differences and ensure Oregon voters have their voices heard at the ballot box," said Governor Brown last week. "Based on my conversations with legislative leaders, and the ongoing public testimony we are hearing from Oregonians across the state this week, I believe the Legislature is ready to begin the next step of the redistricting process.”
Right now Oregon House District 5 includes Talent, Phoenix, Ashland, the southwest corner of Medford, Jacksonville and Ruch.
Marsh tells Newswatch 12 that with this redistricting process there are still questions around what the northern part of District 5's map will look like.
Members of the public are invited to participate during one of the virtual hearings to provide feedback on the draft maps created by the committees.
To sign up to provide oral testimony during the hearings, register for the date and time you’d like to testify found on the Legislature’s website. You can testify on video or by phone. You may sign up for the hearing for your congressional district or for either the 1:00 PM or 5:30 PM hearings on September 13, which are open to all Oregon residents.
To provide written testimony, email your comments to Oregon.Redistricting@Oregonlegislature.gov. Be sure to include which congressional district you live in in the subject line of the email. The deadline to submit written testimony for these public hearings is September 14 at 5:30 PM.