By LINDSAY WHITEHURST Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The Republican-controlled Utah House on Tuesday approved new congressional maps that set aside the work of an independent voter-approved redistribution commission in favor of limits that further cut out the Democratic-leaning Salt Lake County.
The cards were passed by 50 votes to 22, despite opposition from minority Democrats who urged lawmakers to support the redistribution cards created by the commission. “It robs the voter of the city and it is not necessary,” said Representative Jennifer Dailey-Provost, a Democrat from Salt Lake City.
But Republican Representative Paul Ray, who helped draw the newly approved maps, said they better reflect the state as a whole by including a mix of urban and rural voters. âPopulation data determines what we do,â he said.
The bill now goes to the State Senate.
The new districts will determine how voters elect members of Congress for the next decade. While much of Utah is conservative, one of its four congressional districts has been a swing district. The new maps will likely make the 4th Republican District more reliable by dividing liberal-leaning Salt Lake County into four districts rather than the three it is currently divided into.
Some Republicans have voted against the new plan as well, including Rep. Ray Ward: âThere must be places where people know it could go both ways,â he said.
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The vote comes a day after dozens of frustrated people gathered to call on lawmakers to use one of the maps created by the Utah Independent Redistribution Commission. It was created after a slim majority of voters approved a voting initiative in 2018, but lawmakers weren’t required to use any of the cards they drew up.
House leaders said they took some of the commission’s results into account in creating the new maps, but said the state’s constitution gave them the power to draw new legislative districts.
“The elected representatives of the Legislature take their responsibility very seriously to do what they think is right,” Utah House President Brad Wilson said.
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