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LETTER: A look at changes to Indiana’s District 74

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As you may recall, one of our major constitutional requirements was to update the maps for Indiana House and Senate districts, as well as Congressional districts. I served on the Indiana House Elections and Apportionment Committee responsible for the House and Congressional maps. It is mandatory to revisit the districts because of population shifts and general growth which occur over time. The Evansville suburban areas grew the most, pushing District 74 east. Further, as the population of the state grew over 5 percent, all districts increased their populations from about 60,000 residents per House seat to nearly 65,000 residents.

Existing District 74 includes much of southern Dubois County, most of Spencer County, some of Perry County and some of Warrick County. When the dust had settled, the new District 74 covers five counties: southern Dubois County, the eastern half of Spencer County, all of Perry County, all of Crawford County, and the southern half, plus French Lick and West Baden communities, of Orange County. The new geography is larger as it will cover less populated areas including Patoka Lake and Hoosier National Forest. However, it is more compact than the previous District 74.

As soon as the new districts were published, legislators’ phones began to ring with calls from constituents. People ask, “So, do you represent the old or new district?” The answer is that I legally and fully represent my current district through the next election. The practical answer is that if a legislator is going to become an official candidate for the new district boundaries, then they will also be spending time getting to know their constituents and their communities’ needs.

Indiana did a great job of updating maps to ensure voters were represented in compact communities of interest. However, with that improvement comes potential change to who represents them at the Statehouse. For those interested in learning more about what the new districts look like, you can go to http://www.in.gov/legislative/house_republicans/rd/pdfs/House_big.pdf and review the maps.
 
SUE ELLSPERMANN
State Representative, District 74