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Former Sen. Hillyard Appointed To Independent Redistricting Committee

Bernard Gagnon

Members for the 2021 Independent Redistricting Commission were announced on Monday as a result of the 2018 Better Boundaries ballot initiative, which sought to reduce gerrymandering in the state.

"No matter how we do it, there’s going to be criticism," Lyle Hillyard said.

Hillyard, a former Cache County senator, was named by Senate President Stuart Adams to the seven member independent redistricting committee on Monday.

The committee was formed as a result of the successful 2018 ballot initiative, Better Boundaries, which was an effort to reduce gerrymandering in the state. The independent committee will make redistricting recommendations based on the 2020 census data, but the state constitution mandates that the legislature makes the decision on boundary changes.

When it comes to redistricting, Hillyard said he has seen how challenging this can be over his four decades of legislative service. 

“A person who had done this a lot told me an interesting point that I’ve never forgotten,” he said. “Doing the first couple of districts is really easy. It’s really hard when you get to the end."

The commission, which is chaired by BYU professor Rex L. Faucer and includes former Congressman Rob Bishop as well as Jeffery Baker, Pat Jones, Christine Durham and William A. Thorne, Jr., will suggest new boundaries for Utah’s House and Senate districts, as well as the state’s congressional seats. The ballot initiative also requires the commission hold seven public hearings across the state. 

The redistricting recommendations will be presented to the state Legislative Redistricting Committee and then lawmakers will have the final say on the districts. 

At the moment, both commission and committee are on-hold as far as map layouts as they rely on the most recent census data, whose results have been delayed due to the pandemic.