Oklahoma House announces redistricting plan
The Oklahoma House of Representatives on Wednesday announced its legislative redistricting plan.
By law, the Legislature must redraw its legislative district boundaries to reflect changes in population every 10 years.
“These districts are based on unprecedented public input gathered through the most town halls ever held, several committee meetings involving every House district, and public map submissions,” said Rep. Ryan Martinez, R-Edmond, chair of the House Redistricting Committee. “By putting the public in the driver’s seat, the House was able to produce a very strong map providing fair and proper representation for all Oklahomans for another ten years.”
Rep. Daniel Pae, R-Lawton, is co-chair of the House Redistricting Committee.
“Redistricting is a key aspect of maintaining the integrity of our democracy,” Pae said. “The House’s transparent, inclusive and accessible process produced a plan ensuring every citizen’s voice has equal weight and representation at the Capitol.”
The House, in collaboration with the Senate, from December to March held 22 town hall meetings – 18 in person and four virtual – to solicit input from the public. All Oklahomans were invited to attend, ask questions, submit testimony and talk to lawmakers and staff about what makes the most sense for their community.
Meetings were livestreamed, when possible, and recorded and archived. Previous House meetings can be viewed here: https://okhouse.gov/Video/Default.aspx.
The House used a dedicated email address, email@example.com, and website, https://okhouse.gov/Publications/Redistricting.aspx, to accept public comment, answer questions and keep the public informed throughout the redistricting process.
For the first time in state history, all House members served on one of eight Regional Redistricting Subcommittees to ensure representation of all House districts in the process. The full State and Federal Redistricting Committee set policy for the redistricting process.
A map of the proposed House districts can be found in PDF and interactive form at https://www.okhouse.gov/Publications/PropDistMaps.aspx
An additional version can be found at https://arcg.is/eWGnu
The House redistricting plan is based on Oklahoma’s population per the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015-2019 American Community Survey, which was more than 3.9 million. The ideal population for each of the 101 House districts is 38,939. All 101 House districts were redrawn to be within the 5% (+/-2.5%) population deviation standard set by the House Redistricting Committee.
As required by law, all districts also were drawn to be contiguous, and the overall geographic size of districts was a consideration. Forty-seven districts grew in geographic size; 53 shrank. Only House district, House District 25 in Pontotoc County, did not change.
The largest district is still House District 61 in the Panhandle and northwest Oklahoma, which grew from 7,981 square miles to 8,296 square miles. The smallest district is House District 93 in south Oklahoma City, which covers 6.21 square miles.
Where possible, consideration was given to keeping small towns whole by following municipal boundaries. Consideration also was given to organizing districts in regard to rural, urban and suburban areas. In addition, where possible, the plan takes into consideration school district boundaries and uses main roads, rivers, highways and other physical features for district boundaries.
Extensive public input also was considered. Requests from public input incorporated into the map include:
A request from Elk City residents to no longer be split between districts. Elk City and Beckham County are now whole and within House District 55, which remains a rural southwestern Oklahoma district.
A request for Pontotoc County to not be split and remain within one House district. House District 25, which currently includes all of Pontotoc County, remains unchanged. Most of the publically submitted maps also kept Pontotoc County whole.
A request from community leaders to not split up small towns in eastern Oklahoma County. Nicoma Park and Jones are no longer split between two House districts. Further, the plan moves House District 36 to Oklahoma County and is comprised of the cities of Luther, Jones, Harrah, Choctaw and the northwestern corner of Cleveland County. This gives eastern Oklahoma County more cohesive representation in response to comments made at the very first town hall in Oklahoma City in December.
A request from residents of Osage County to not split the cities of Pawhuska and Fairfax. Those cities are now wholly in House District 37.
A request for all of Hughes County to be in one House district. Hughes County is now wholly in House District 18.
A request for the Brookwood neighborhood in South Oklahoma City to be within the same district. Brookwood is now wholly in House District 91.
House Bill 1198, the bill containing the proposed House districts, begins the normal legislative process next week in the House State and Federal Redistricting Committee. It must be passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor.
“Public input is not finished. The House released this plan in advance of next week’s committee meeting so the public can continue to weigh in,” Martinez said. “The House will continue encouraging and considering public input throughout the legislative process.”
Under the Oklahoma Constitution, redistricting plans for state legislative districts must be completed by the end of this year’s regular session.
Congressional redistricting has no deadline. The Legislature plans to reconvene in a special session in the fall to complete congressional redistricting and make any necessary adjustments to legislative districts upon the release of final Census data, which was delayed by the federal government until Sept. 30 due to the pandemic.