By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
The Legislature’s redrawing of House and Senate district lines during its recent budget session has caused a bit of a shake-up among legislators.
Sen. Brian Boner, R-Douglas, was one of the legislators who saw significant changes in his district because of the redrawing of legislative district lines that must take place every 10 years to conform with new census data. Before redistricting, he represented Converse and Platte counties, but now, he will represent Converse and Natrona counties.
However, said he felt optimistic about his work over the next two years within his new district lines, he told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday.
“I think, overall, it’s a good community of interest,” he said. “We have a lot in common between these two counties, especially with agriculture and energy. I have real life experience in both of those areas, so I think these next two years will be a good time to work from a policy perspective.”
The redistricting effort — a job that took legislators until the final hours of their recent budget session — led this year to the addition of two new legislative districts, one new Senate district and one new House districts in Laramie County, which will be filled with new members to be elected in November.
Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that three areas saw significant growth in the last 10 years — eastern Cheyenne, eastern Casper and north Lincoln County.
“Places like Star Valley Ranch and Alpine saw huge areas of growth in the state over the last 10 years,” said Zwonitzer, a chairman of the House Corporations Committee that helped draw the new boundaries. “This was around 6% to 8% of growth.”
While some legislative district lines were redrawn to equalize the number of people represented by legislators, growth in east Cheyenne forced the creation of the two new districts in Laramie County.
The redistricting law has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon, but Zwonitzer believes the governor will allow the bill to pass into law without a signature.
Before the redistricting, each member of the House represented around 9,700 constituents. Now, with the extra two districts, each House member will represent about 9,300, Zwonitzer said.
Zwonitzer pointed out that by redrawing the redistricts this session, there are more seats in areas that would be considered “blue,” or Democratic, than before.
Meanwhile, Boner said his past experience representing two counties will come in handy as he continues his job in Senate District 2.
“You have to learn to take a step back and look at what’s best for both counties, but also to look at what’s best for the state,” he said.
Boner would not say whether he planned to run for the Senate District 2 seat in 2024.