CNHI Statehouse Reporter
INDIANAPOLIS — Due to urban population growth and rural population declines, districts lines shifted significantly for state Senate districts, creating four new districts and pitting eight sitting members against each other in future elections.
For Sen. Pro Tem Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, the maps followed all federal and state requirements, seeking to keep communities of interest together and make districts more compact.
“Counties, cities, towns and townships are more together than they have been in the past,” Bray said. “With the movement of the population, it left rural areas and moved towards more urban and suburban ones.”
Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, said the number of whole counties housed in one district rose from 49 to 65, as well as 96% of entire townships and 92% of cities and towns.
To view the current and proposed maps, click here.
Locally, the biggest change in and around Kosciusko County involves District 9, which is represented by Sen. Ryan Mishler.
Among the changes, under the current plan, Mishler would lose Plymouth and would lose parts of Wayne Township in Kosciusko County except for Warsaw and Winona Lake, which remain in the district.
District 9 would also pick up Turkey Creek township, including Syracuse, but would lose Washington Township in south east Kosciusko County.
Otherwise, a move to unite all of Madison County into one district will pit incumbent Democrat Sen. Tim Lanane, of Anderson, against an incumbent Republican, Sen. Mike Gaskill, of Pendleton. It eliminated what Koch called a “Pac-Man” district around Lanane’s district, which connected Anderson and Muncie.
“We heard a lot of testimony that (Madison County) needed to be together, and we were able to achieve that,” Bray said.
The move also creates a new district in Delaware and Randolph counties with no sitting senator.
The new maps, unveiled Tuesday, created an additional Lake County district and pushed two other Lake County Democrats — Sen. Lonnie Randolph, of East Chicago, and Sen. Frank Mrvan, of Hammond — into the same district.
Most of Boone County will now be in one district, meaning Republican Sens. Phil Boots, of Crawfordsville, and Brian Buchanan, of Lebanon, will face each other in their next election cycle. The rest of Boots’ former district, which stretched to the Illinois border, becomes a new district with no sitting senator.
In Southern Indiana, Republican Sen. Chris Garten, of Charlestown, will be in the same district as Sen. Ron Grooms, R-Jeffersonville. Grooms previously announced his retirement. Election cycles differ between senators, with half the chamber up for re-election in 2022 and the other half up for re-election in 2024.
The last new district created sits in central Marion County, in a part of the state that saw the most population growth.
The Senate Elections Committee will hear testimony on the proposed maps at 9 a.m. Monday in Indianapolis before possibly amending and voting Tuesday.
Critics decried the redistricting process, as Senate maps will be amended into the House maps bill Wednesday before any Senate map testimony. The Senate will then consider all three sets of maps, including congressional ones, on Sept. 30.
If there are no changes to Senate maps, the Senate will meet one last time Oct. 1 to pass the final version of the bill. If there are changes, the House will also need to meet Oct. 1 before the bill can move to the governor for signing.
Editor’s note: InkFreeNews contributed to this story.
This article was made available through Hoosier State Press Association.