State Capitol News
Fri March 16, 2012
The IRC is Taking State to Court for Non-Payment
The Independent Redistricting Commission is going to court this morning to force the state to pay the panel's bills.
Lawmakers have so far given the voter-created commission $3.5 million to do its work of crafting the state's 30 legislative and nine congressional districts. Commission Executive Director Ray Bladine said while the maps are done, there are still questions that need to be answered as the Department of Justice reviews them. And Bladine began warning last month the cash was running out. Now it's gone. And so far lawmakers have not come up with the money. So Bladine said the only remedy is to go to court.
"The constitution says that the commission will be provided the required funding to do its job," said Bladine. "And there is constitutional law and supreme court cases that in essence say that the constitution itself can appropriate money when the constitutional part has been approved by the voters."
Bladine said the commission needs $1.1 million to pay its bills through the end of the year. But House Speaker Andy Tobin said lawmakers won't give them that much, saying some of what the commission spent in legal fees was wasted.
"They decided they wanted to fight a potential Open Meeting Law violation instead of just complying," said Tobin. "That's why they overspent. And that's half a million dollars."
Tobin said it's irrelevant that a judge eventually ruled the commission had its own open meeting requirements and was not subject to the state open meeting law.