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By Brian Stimson of The Skanner News
Published: 22 June 2011

With a successful legislative redistricting under their belt, you'd think legislators would be back for round two – congressional redistricting.

But with little time left in the current session, it appears increasingly unlikely they'll get an agreement in place. In fact, when the state district agreement was signed by the governor, not only did staff take down links to the old proposed legislative district maps, they also took down the links to the proposed congressional maps. Which begs the question: Accident or an implication that lawmakers would never get the job done?

We may never know the answer.

When The Skanner News contacted the co-chairs of the redistricting committees, Democrats Sen. Suzanne Bonamici and Rep. Chris Garrett, it was clear the lawmakers were working on other priorities.

"I hope so," Bonamici told The Skanner News about the possibility of lawmakers reaching a compromise on new congressional district boundaries. "But everyone expects to be out of session this week."

She said that co-chair Garrett had taken the lead on the redistricting. But a staffer in Rep. Garrett's office was unaware of any work that had been done on the congressional lines. Garret and other representatives on the redistricting committee never returned calls, as they were busy pushing through last minute laws before the close of the session, according to staffers.

If no deal is reached, the task will be upon the courts to resolve.

Enter the Republican Party of Oregon and former State Treasurer Tony Meeker, a resident of Yamhill County, who recently filed a lawsuit there urging a court review of the three different proposed congressional redistricting options.

Oregon Republican Spokesman Gregg Leo told The Skanner News that if the legislature doesn't come to an agreement – and they hope they do – the Republicans want a three-judge panel in largely rural Yamhill County to review the options and come to a consensus.

Leo said that the Republican Party felt Yamhill County to be a more fair venue for the politically contested boundaries. Previously, the redistricting was taken upon by a single judge in largely urban and Democratic Multnomah County.

"Yamhill is pretty balanced," Leo said, and represents a reflection of the more "common community of thought" in rural Oregon. Leo expects that the lawsuit will be settled in a timely fashion by the courts, in time for the filing deadline for the November 2012 elections.

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