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Federal court orders new legislative districts

Brief by Central Staff

Politics – January 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

Federal court orders new and improved legislative districts

Just in time for the 1998 election cycle, which starts in April with precinct caucuses, an interim committee of the state legislature has produced new district boundaries for the state House of Representatives.

The state was ordered to do this on account of a suit filed in federal court, alleging that the old District 60, essentially the San Luis Valley, deprived Hispanic voters of full participation in the system. The Valley, the plaintiffs argued, is 45% Hispanic, yet had not elected a Hispanic representative for more than 50 years, because Anglo voters were too prejudiced.

The federal courts agreed, and ordered the state to contrive a district with a Hispanic majority.

Armed with old census data, an interim legislative committee produced new districts for this area. The new and improved Hispanic-majority District 50 stretches across the Sangres from San Luis to Trinidad (with some Alamosa precincts and most of the town of Center), and so the Valley is now divided.

The rest of the Valley, along with the rest of Central Colorado except for the Wet Mountain Valley goes into District 44, which will be represented by Carl Miller, the Leadville Democrat who had been representing the old District 61.

Carl’s district will now cover about 12,600 of Colorado’s 103,973 square miles — about an eighth of the state. To put it another way, if all representatives had as much territory as Carl, we’d need only eight, rather than 65.

We’re sure Carl’s up to the task, but on the other hand, it’s a long way from Bailey to Lake City, or from Marble to Moffat, especially in the winter.