The revised map was expected by Legislative Research Council to become available for public viewing today on the Internet.
The recommendations generally follow the map developed by House Speaker Val Rausch, R-Big Stone City, and Senate Republican leader Russ Olson of Wentworth.
The Legislature is scheduled to adopt a final plan when lawmakers meet in special session on Oct. 24. The new boundaries will be used for the 2012 through 2020 legislative elections. District boundaries are realigned every 10 years after the U.S. census is completed.
While the 90-day waiting period on the law setting the new districts won’t expire until Jan. 22, Secretary of State Jason Gant has officially informed legislators that candidates can begin circulating nomination petitions for the new districts on Jan. 1.
The early priorities were meeting federal voting-rights requirements for legislative districts in Indian country and drawing district lines in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, with a series of public meetings held in reservation areas and in the two urban areas.
That work established or affected more than half of the districts statewide.
From there, the panel developed plans for the remainder of the state. The vote Tuesday was 10-3 along party lines, with two Republicans excused, to adopt the Rausch-Olson plan with a pair of amendments affecting Brown, Day and Bon Homme counties.
The Republican leadership’s original plan called for splitting Day County and dividing Brown County among three legislative districts rather than the current two.
An amendment from Rep. Brian Gosch, R-Rapid City, would keep Day County whole, as requested by a delegation of county leaders in a teleconference call to the committee, and somewhat rearranges the proposed boundaries within Brown County while sticking with the three-district approach.
Among those testifying about the three-district approach were Brown County residents Julie Johnson, Sharon Stroschein and Al Hoerth. All three said the three-district approach caught them by surprise.
Johnson, a Republican, didn’t take a specific stand about what she preferred, while Democrats Stroschein and Hoerth asked to remain at two districts.
Democrats portrayed the three-district approach as a way to dilute Democratic representation in the Legislature because some incumbents might be shifted into one another’s districts and face primary elections against each other.
The other amendment, made by Democratic Rep. Mitch Fargen of Flandreau, shifted the proposed new lines in Bon Homme County so that Rep. Frank Kloucek, D-Scotland, remained within his traditional area rather than being moved into a new more-western district.
The new boundaries would create the potential among incumbent legislators for two Democratic primaries and five Republican primaries, according to Sen. Corey Brown, R-Gettysburg. “There are a tremendous number of limitations on how we draw the map,” he said.
The Legislature currently has 79 Republicans, one independent who sits with the Republicans in the House of Representatives, and 25 Democrats.
The committee repeatedly took public testimony during the months-long process and placed many proposed maps on the Legislature’s Internet site. The final statewide maps offered by Rausch-Olson, Fargen and a former legislator, however weren’t posted until last weekend.
While there was some criticism for that lateness, the committee overall drew praise for its generally open process.
“It’s got the public’s imprint all over this,” Sen. Todd Schlekeway, R-Sioux Falls, said.
He listed several examples of citizen testimony that led to specific features in the final plan, such as combining the Lower Brule and Crow Creek reservation areas into the same district as the Rosebud reservation.
Sen. Jim Bradford, D-Pine Ridge, voted against the final plan with Fargen and the panel’s third Democrat, Rep. Susan Wismer of Britton. But Bradford said he was pleased with the outcomes for reservation areas.
The Legislature was successfully sued over minority voting rights after the redistricting process a decade ago.
Bradford said other committee members were good about asking him for his thoughts this time. He said the proposed alignments could lead to more representation by Native Americans in the Legislature.
“Pretty much it has went the way we wanted,” Bradford said.
To find the map showing the final recommendations when it becomes available Wednesday, visit legis.state.sd.us and click on the “Current Interim” tab.