A Republican-led state House committee has approved a G.O.P. plan for re-mapping the state's congressional districts.
The plan is poised for a House vote, over objections of Democrats and government watchdogs who say the plan is not fair and neutral. It pits Democratic incumbents against each other, and strengthens the G.O.P. base for some vulnerable Republicans.
Democrats say that's no accident. They are also complaining that voters dissatisfied with the plan can't challenge it. It has a $30,000 dollar appropriation, a technicality that would make it immune to a voter referendum on the law.
"This is partisan politics at its worst," says state Representative Barb Byrum, the ranking Democrat on the redistricting committee. "It's being rammed through. There's no reason. Legislators are choosing their residents. It should be the other way around. This is absurd."
The Republican chair of the committee says the new congressional map follows the law and complies with court rulings. He also says the maps will be thoroughly examined.
"The process still has to be voted on by the Legislature - the House and the Senate," says committee Chair Pete Lund. "Ultimately, it's going to have to be approved by the federal government in Washington.
"Delaying this process further and further doesn't do any good. It just delays the process. It doesn't change it."
The House is expected to vote on the new congressional map this week. The Legislature is expected to approve all the maps for Congress and the Legislature by the end of the month, but it appears likely the redistricting controversies will ultimately be decided in court.