Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

House Redistricting Proposal Draws Praise in Oklahoma

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

House Redistricting Proposal Draws Praise in Oklahoma

Article excerpt

District lines for the 101-member House of Representatives have drastically changed, the chairman of the House's Redistricting Committee said Monday.

Speaking at a Capitol press conference announcing the completion of the House's redistricting plan, state Rep. Dale DeWitt, R- Braman, said Oklahoma has grown by more than 300,000 residents and the House's new legislative districts reflect that growth.

"That growth occurred around Oklahoma City and Tulsa," DeWitt said. "So our rural districts actually lost quite a bit."

Because the state's rural areas are losing population, DeWitt said life in rural Oklahoma has changed.

"With that type of a change in the growth and the growth being in the center of the state, life changed drastically, especially in rural Oklahoma," he said. "With that challenge we have put together a plan that we think is fair. We hope that everyone was included. We feel like we're putting together a plan that is very acceptable to every member."

Dewitt said the new district lines reflect the state's urban growth and caused splits in 41 counties. Ten years ago, he said, lawmakers were forced to split 47 counties.

DeWitt said each House district would include about 37,100 residents.

House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, said the House developed the redistricting plan without the help of an outside consultant. He said House members and legislative staff drew the lines.

"I believe this bill is fair and inclusive," he said. "We drew on the talents and knowledge and skill of our members."

House Democratic Leader Scott Inman called the plan historic.

"Not to my knowledge has the House of Representatives, in a number of years, tackled an issue so controversial, as potentially controversial as redistricting," said Inman, D-Del City. "And it was done it in such a way as it would present a bipartisan approach to governing. …

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