New Congressional Map Debated after Closed Caucus

(KCPW News) Republicans and Democrats in the Utah House of Representatives spent much of the morning and early afternoon today in caucus meetings before taking to the floor for a vigorous debate over re-drawing the state’s congressional districts. House Majority Whip Greg Hughes told members of the Republican caucus, right before they closed the door to reporters and the public, that privacy was necessary because of the Utah Democratic Party’s lawsuit threat.

“It’s been made clear by one of our guests in the room right now that there is absolute certainty that litigation is going to happen from this process,” he said. “So even if this were a public hearing, not a caucus meeting, knowing that there are people in this room that plan to litigate, knowing that there is a lawsuit pending, it is completely appropriate for us to have these discussions.”

Republicans later emerged with a map sponsored by Republican Representative Merlynn Newbold of South Jordan.

Democratic lawmakers said they weren’t surprised the GOP meeting was closed. But Representative Brian King of Salt Lake City says he personally has no interest in a lawsuit.

“I’m sure that there are other people in the Democratic Party or maybe even members of the legislature who are part of the Democratic caucus who would consider doing that. I hope it doesn’t come to that,” he told KCPW. “I really do. I hope we can get this resolved in a way that again is a compromise and reflects bipartisan efforts as opposed to just the Republican caucus doing what they want to do.”

The House later voted down a map proposed by Representative King and Utah County resident David Garber.