Local legislators are fighting to keep rural representation at the state level during an ongoing redistricting battle. Many lawmakers in the state are hoping to redraw boundaries in a way that would essentially add a House seat in the Cheyenne area. Something local lawmakers say would lessen the representation of Wyoming residents in rural southwestern communities.
“Some of the directives that we received going into this process was to try and preserve communities of interest, get as much public involvement as we can and to be as least disruptive as possible,” said State Representative Scott Heiner (R-HD18) during a live interview on SVI Radio. “We went to the Corporations Committee with some plans that we thought would work well and the public that was involved were supportive of and town councils were supportive of these plans. But we’ve had quite a difference of opinion from our Corporations Committee. They did not go along with the plans that we had vetted with the public. They came up with a different plan that is quite disruptive to our communities of interest.”
According to Heiner, the proposal released by the Corporations Committee “moves some of the representation from rural Wyoming into the municipalities of the southeast corner of Wyoming.”
During the same radio interview, Senate President Dan Dockstader (R-SD16) shared similar concerns. “We had everything all kinda put together and the Corporations Committee said ‘No, we’re going to move a seat over to Cheyenne and that area’ and we said ‘whoa, wait a minute’ and that’s where the urban/rural battle started. I didn’t want to back down on the rural areas. I feel that they need a seat at the table. It’s too easy to round up a lot of votes from Casper and Cheyenne and the larger areas. We need to make sure that the rural areas are represented and that’s what we’re fighting for now.”
When asked what the next step is, Pres. Dockstader responded by saying he expects the issue will drag on into the 2022 Legislative Session and will be settled on the floors of the House and Senate.
“It was pretty smooth sailing last time around,” stated Dockstader. “This time not so much because, at least in my concern, I don’t think we should back down on making sure the rural areas are properly represented. I’m not ready to give a seat up to a larger city.”
“We do not know what’s going to happen in the next ten years,” continued Rep. Heiner. “With the nuclear facility in southwest Wyoming, some other things going on in southwest Wyoming, it could grow considerably in the next ten years. It would not be fair to project what’s going to happen in Cheyenne without projecting what’s going to happen in southwest Wyoming. What they’re proposing is taking away representation in Sweetwater, Carbon and part of southern Lincoln County. It’s going to hurt us in the long run.”
Both Dockstader and Heiner encouraged the public to be- come involved and informed with what’s happening regarding redistricting around the state by watching committee meetings online and contacting your local legislators.
The full conversation with President Dockstader and Representative Heiner can be found online at SVInews.com/radio and on the SVI News app.