Proposed Indiana Republican congressional (left) and Indiana House maps.
Proposed Indiana Republican congressional (left) and Indiana House maps.

By BRIAN A. HOWEY

INDIANAPOLIS - Some three years after the constitutional window closed for an independent, bipartisan redistricting commission, Republicans unveiled new U.S. and Indiana House maps on Tuesday. House Speaker Todd Huston said, “These maps follow all statutory and constitutional requirements and reflect the population trends over the last 10 years.”

The new maps drew House Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown from HD41 to HD44 which is represented by State Rep. Beau Baird. Brown told Dave Bangert's Based in Lafayette he will retire. “I've been talking about and thinking about it most all summer,” Brown said. “28 years is a long time.” 

The congressional map appear to be friendly to freshman members Frank Mrvan of the 1st CD who picks up Democratic Michigan City in LaPorte County, while Republican Victoria Spartz sheds Democratic Indianapolis (and 2020 challenger Christina Hale) in her redrawn 5th CD. Initial Howey Politics Indiana analysis gives Mrvan and Spartz a clearer path to victory in 2022 if the maps are adopted in early October. Passage of the maps is a virtual fait accompli as Republicans hold super majorities in both the House and Senate and can pass the new maps without a single Democrat showing up. 

In addition to the House Committee on Elections and Apportionment public meeting set for 10 a.m. Thursday, Chairman Tim Wesco, R-Elkhart, will host a public meeting at 1 p.m. Wednesday, in the House Chamber. 

Indiana Democratic Chairman Mike Schmuhl was not impressed. “Indiana Republicans have once again manipulated our Hoosier democracy in this year’s redistricting period," Schmuhl said. "Over the summer, they held shadow hearings that felt more like a comment box, promised a process that would be ‘fair’ and transparent’, and when it mattered most, manipulated the system once again to favor themselves over Hoosier voters. The Republicans’ new Indiana House and Congressional maps keep in place a broken system where self-serving politicians benefit at the expense of Indiana families. 

“These maps were drawn unfairly, without transparency, and are gerrymandered in a way that checks the boxes of the high-priced, Washington, D.C. Republican consultant the Indiana GOP hired to solidify this partisan process,” Schmuhl continued.

State Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, who will carry HB1581 in the House, said, "These proposed maps are the culmination of a months-long effort, which included listening to Hoosiers across the state. We pulled together all the data along with public input to draw fair maps that account for shifts in population over the years. We look forward to obtaining additional public input and fulfilling our constitutional duties in the coming weeks.” 

According to House Republicans, the proposed Indiana House map increases the number of counties that are wholly contained within one House district from 26 to 32. There are 22 fewer township splits where a single township is represented by multiple House districts. The draft House map includes a less than 1% deviation from the ideal population of 67,855 for each district. 

It creates at least one new open House District, HD41, as Ways & Means Chairman Tim Brown is now in HD44.

The proposed Congressional map keeps 84 of Indiana's 92 counties whole, and includes a near equal deviation, two or fewer persons, from the ideal population of 753,948, Republicans say. Both plans are substantially comparable to or better than the maps passed in 2011 based on the most widely acknowledged compactness standards.

Proposed Indiana Senate maps will be released on Sept. 20. Republicans have 71 of 100 House seats and 39 of 50 Senate seats.

Developing . . . .