Utah Legislature passes new congressional map

Nov 10, 2021, 11:47 AM | Updated: Mar 18, 2022, 9:39 am

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Legislature has passed a bill designating the state’s new congressional districts.

The Senate approved HB2004 Wednesday morning by a 21-7 vote, and the bill moves to Gov. Spencer Cox’s desk for his signature or veto.

Cox said he has no intention of vetoing the bill during a town hall meeting Tuesday night. He added if Utahns don’t like the maps, they should “elect people that have the same interests that (they) do.”

The House approved the map by a 50-22 vote on Tuesday.

Democratic Sen. Jani Iwamoto said Millcreek’s mayor told her the city will become “the new four corners area” of Utah’s congressional districts, and Democratic Sen. Derek Kitchen called the map “shameless political gerrymandering” and “anti-democratic.”

The map, which was developed by the Legislative Redistricting Committee and not the Independent Redistricting Commission, which was created after Utahns approved a ballot initiative in 2018, was met with heated opposition during a committee meeting on Tuesday.

Lawmakers heard more than 100 public comments during that meeting, with most comments critical of the maps.

The group Better Boundaries said the maps created by the Republican-controlled committee were heavily gerrymandered and that it will consider legal and legislative options to get the maps repealed and replaced. 

“We are extremely disappointed the Legislative Redistricting Committee decided to forward maps that don’t meet what Utahns want, which is keeping Utah’s cities and counties intact and keeping politics out of redistricting,” said Katie Wright from Better Boundaries. 

They urged lawmakers to instead approve maps put forward by the Independent Redistricting Commission.  

House Speaker Brad Wilson said they are selecting maps that best serve the state, while Democrats said they will do what they can to change them. 

Minority Leader Brian King said, “It’s bad enough that we have Salt Lake County cut three ways currently. Under the new map, it’s going to be cut four ways and there’s just no good reason for that.” 

Democratic Rep. Andrew Stoddard agreed, “You could keep Salt Lake City whole. You can keep most counties in the state whole or with very minimal splits, and this map doesn’t do that.” 

Wilson was adamant that it was not possible.

“You literally cannot create four congressional districts and not divide up counties. You can’t do it,” he said.

Utah Senate Democrats released a statement about the Congressional Boundaries Designation:

Representation must be close to and created by and for the people. The Legislature’s passage of H.B. 2004 blatantly silences the voices of Utahns through Congressional boundaries that unacceptably divide and crack our communities. Addressing the state’s complex social and economic issues and bringing our voice to Washington DC—with representation from both our rural and urban centers—will not be realized with these imbalanced boundaries, and the people of Utah deserved better today.

As Democrats, we stand for fair, transparent boundaries and made several attempts to uphold Congressional proposals submitted by the Independent Redistricting Commission. The Congressional map that passed the Legislature’s is an unacceptable abuse of power that did not include all voices nor meaningful input from the public. This discourages participation in democracy and in the legislative process. We are disheartened by the Congressional map and stand with the people of Utah.

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Utah Legislature passes new congressional map