Senate committee approves District 57 boundary fix

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 8 2011 6:30 p.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — A Senate committee approved a bill Tuesday that would redraw the Cedar Hills legislative and congressional boundaries to fix a problem that cost a lawmaker his seat.

"I'm a citizen in limbo," former Rep. Craig Frank told the Senate Business and Labor Committee before its unanimous vote on SB113. "We hope to rejoin our family of House District 57."

SB113, sponsored by Sen. John Valentine, R-Orem, also would require the lieutenant governor's office to certify county election maps to avoid any similar situations in the future.

Utah County election officials included a portion of Cedar Hills that was undeveloped but annexed at the time of the 2000 census; the official state map, based on legislative redistricting did not.

That meant residents have been voting in the wrong House, Senate and congressional districts for the past decade. But only Frank's seat was in question because he lived within the disputed area along with some 2,550 other Cedar Hills residents.

Valentine, who thought he represented the area, said the bill will ensure the lieutenant governor does what he is supposed to do as the state's chief election officer — check county election maps against the Legislature's redistricting plan.

Sen. Karen Mayne, D-West Valley, said candidates count on the lieutenant governor's office. "They are like the Supreme Court to us," she said. "So I think the responsibility needs to be there."

Frank, who held the seat since 2003 and was reelected in November, discovered the boundary discrepancy last month when he entered his address into a new House website and another lawmaker's picture appeared on his computer screen.

He resigned just before the start of the 2011 session, avoiding a fight in the House over seating him. Frank said he expects the bill to have a tough time in the House.

His replacement, Rep. Holly Richardson, R-Pleasant Grove, told the committee that redrawing the boundaries is the "clear desire from delegates in our area."

But House leaders have suggested they'd rather wait to adjust the boundaries until after the session, when the latest redistricting based on the 2010 census gets under way.

Frank was an ally of new House Speaker Becky Lockhart, R-Provo, in her leadership race and some lawmakers want to avoid any appearance of cronyism.

Now an adviser to the Legislature's conservative Patrick Henry Caucus, Frank said he hopes "the House sees this as a proper remedy to a difficult situation. It really is a simple fix."

E-mail: lisa@desnews.com

Get The Deseret News Everywhere

Subscribe

Mobile

RSS