Lawmaker: Legislature ignored reapportionment recommendations a decade ago

To the Editor:

Pursuant to federal and State constitutional requirements regarding equality of representation, the General Assembly reapportions legislative districts at least once every ten years following the taking of the U.S. Census. “In establishing representative districts, which shall afford equality of representation, the General Assembly shall seek to maintain geographical compactness and contiguity…” – Chapter II, §13, Vt. Constitution

The 2020 census figures for Vermont’s population was 634,077. For equal representation purposes each House member should represent 4,287 residents. For the Senate, they should each represent 21,435. Overall deviation should not be more than 20%, (10% over or 10% under). This deviation percentage is hopefully to avoid challenges in court.

This from the Vermont Secretary of State’s website: “To apportion the 150-member House of Representatives, the Legislative Apportionment Board first drafts an initial apportionment plan that draws on advice provided by local Boards of Civil Authority. The Legislative Apportionment Board’s proposal outlines “initial districts.” Initial districts can be one-member, two-member, or multi-member representative districts. The Board then submits this proposal to the General Assembly. The General Assembly typically revises the plan and then solicits input from the appropriate Boards of Civil Authority on how best to subdivide any multi-member districts into one- and two-member districts (a House district can only be represented by one or two representatives at the most). Drawing on this information, the General Assembly then enacts the final House apportionment scheme for the ensuing decade. The method for apportioning the 30-member Senate is similar.”

I served on the House Government Operations Committee during the last reapportionment process in 2012. I would like to let residents know that the final districts voted on by the Legislature, were drastically different from what the apportionment board voted on. Overall, many of the house districts remained the same or were only slightly redrawn from the boundaries set in 2002. I believe the Gov. Ops committee process allows for all voices to be heard, some of them loud at times, but nontheless a respectful process.

Mark Higley, Lowell

Rep. Orleans/Lamoille

Categories: Opinion

1 reply »

  1. Whatever they do with this “reapportionment”, I hope that the disproportion of power given to Chittenden Co. is somehow addressed. One way, I would argue the easiest way, would be to change the Senate so all counties have the same number of Senators. Whether that is two, or three I really would not care. I think the reasoning, and results are sound, and if it is necessary to maintain a balance of power in the U.S. Legislature between the House, and Senate why would it not be advisable for States? Without this the more populous States would have even more influence over more rural, agricultural “fly over” States, and that just ain’t right !