SALEM, Ore. — This week, lawmakers from the Oregon House and Senate committees tasked with redrawing the state's legislative and Congressional maps released the final draft of their proposals as both chambers prepare to meet Monday to discuss their approval.
Governor Kate Brown called for a special legislative session to convene September 20 in order to finish the redistricting process. The Oregon constitution tasks the legislature with reapportioning legislative districts every ten years after the new US Census.
Though delayed by the pandemic, the 2020 Census successfully wrapped up in October, and Oregon officials learned in April that the state would be one of a handful in the nation to gain a new Congressional seat due to its population growth over the past decade.
One committee each from the Oregon House and Senate, both composed of equal parts Democrats and Republicans, started working earlier this year on the redistricting process. At the beginning of this month, the committees released two drafts of each map before heading into a public comment period. Now on the other side of those hearings, there is just one map each for Oregon's House, Senate, and Congressional districts.
On Friday, Sen. Kathleen Taylor, Chair of the Senate Redistricting Committee, and Rep. Andrea Salinas, Co-chair of the House Redistricting Committee, issued a statement following the release of legislative and congressional maps:
“As legislators we are public servants. Our commitment is to Oregonians and our job is to produce fair and representative maps that reflect Oregon’s population growth, align with statutory and constitutional criteria, and ensure public participation.
“The maps drawn meet these requirements and the highest of legal standards. The maps are contiguous, of equal population, utilize existing geographic or political boundaries, are connected by transportation links, and reflect the diversity of communities of interest in our state.
“Despite the delayed Census data and the COVID-19 pandemic, we have prioritized an inclusive and accessible process, open to all Oregonians. As a result, we saw nearly 2,000 pieces of testimony submitted from across the state during 22 public hearings held this year. Oregonians showed up and made their voices heard.
“We look forward to sending these maps to the Legislature for consideration during next week’s Special Session.”
Under the new maps, many people in southern Oregon will see some changes in how they are represented, assuming the legislature decides to approve these drafts during the special session that begins Monday.
Perhaps the most consequential change is to the Congressional map, which now includes a new seat in the US House of Representatives. Under the proposal, Oregon's 2nd Congressional District — which covers all of eastern and most of southern and central Oregon — will see new borders.
The 2nd District is currently Oregon's only Congressional seat held by a Republican, US Rep. Cliff Bentz, and has been the only reliably red district at the federal level for years.
The 2nd District would actually expand in southern Oregon, moving its border west to encompass all of Josephine County and much of Douglas County. However, the district would lose areas of north-central Oregon including Hood River, Wasco, Jefferson, and part of Deschutes counties. Those areas would join an expanded 3rd District.
You can view an interactive map with all of the proposed districts here, or access each individual map below: