Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, testified today that his proposed redistricting bill would improve voter contact with lawmakers and reduce the impact of money in legislative races.
Dunshee would accomplish that with House Bill 1092, which proposes to let the state Redistricting Commission create two House districts inside each of Washington's 49 legislative districts.
This would let House lawmakers cover a smaller turf and spend more time talking to voters instead of raising money for elections, Dushee said.
Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman spoke for county auditors statewide and said they worry the extra step might cause problems for county elections offices in the 2012 election cycle. She said that if the Redistricting Commission can't meet its Jan. 1 deadline for sending a new political boundary map to the Legislature next year, or there is a stalemate forcing the job to the state Supreme Court, it would interfere with elections deadlines set in law.
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Republican Rep. Cary Condotta of Wenatchee said the system today lets voters have diversity with two lawmakers, one one more liberal and one more conservative. He also said one lawmaker in a district could find himself not representing a well-populated area of his district if the district split came true.
It did not appear that Dunshee had a lot of support for his idea, but he said some lawmakers are supportive and other states do it the way he is proposing. "I believe we ought to get closer to the people. If your district is half the size, you will doorbell twice the number of people That reduces the impact of money in a race," he said.
Dunshee mixed it up with new Rep. Jason Overstreet, R-Bellingham, when he described the sprawling nature of some legislative districts. Dunshee said the 39th, which he’d been in until the 2001 redistricting moved him to the 44th, extended into a part of Whatcom County he called "the banjo area up there."
"I take offense at your comments about unincorporated areas of Whatcom County I find it interesting you would take a swipe like that," Overstreet said.
"I actually represented the 39th longer than you’ve been here A little humor doesn't hurt anybody," Dunshee replied. "I represented more rural people than you do now."