West Virginians may weigh in on political redistricting, starting this week

House Speaker Roger Hanshaw wants to emphasize the voice citizens may have in the redistricting process for West Virginia elections.

“We hope that as many West Virginians as possible will come out and do that,” Hanshaw said today, describing a dozen meetings around the state about redistricting.

Public hearings about redistricting start this week. The first is 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Putnam County Judicial Building.

Roger Hanshaw

Speaking on MetroNews’ “Talkline,” Hanshaw said the purpose of the upcoming meetings is so citizens can describe what unites communities and how that should play a role in redistricting decisions.

One big issue will be how to divide West Virginia’s congressional districts. Early Census data concluded that West Virginia will lose one of its three seats in Congress. So how legislators split the remaining districts would determine which current representatives might wind up having to face off against each other.

“Sadly, West Virginia is going to lose a congressional district later this fall,” said Hanshaw, R-Clay. “So one of the decisions we have to make this fall is exactly how is that drawn.

“Should communities along the Ohio River be kept together? Should the two panhandles be kept together? How do we treat the portions of West Virginia, which, even though we are a small state are quite unique and quite diverse.”

Representatives of West Virginia’s Legislature will also map out revised districts for the state Senate and House of Delegates. House members will be divided into single-member districts, a process that started years ago.

The Senate and the House of Delegates each voted during interim meetings this week to create select committees on redistricting, which is a process to establish new legislative districts after the 10-year federal Census.

The Joint Committee on Redistricting will be led by Senator Charles Trump, R-Morgan, and Delegate Gary Howell, R-Mineral.

Other members include senators Trump, Dave Sypolt,  Mike Caputo, Glenn Jeffries. Rupie Phillips. Chandler Swope. Eric Tarr, Ryan Weld and Mike Woelfel as well as delegates Amy Summers, Bill Anderson, Brent Boggs, Nathan Brown, Moore Capito, Paul Espinosa, Shawn Fluharty, Geoff Foster, Marty Gearheart, Sean Hornbuckle, Eric Householder, David Kelly. Kayla Kessinger, Daniel Linville, Zach Maynard, Jeff Pack, Matt Rohrbach, Ruth Rowan, Doug Skaff, Joe Statler, Erikka Storch, Steve Westfall and John Williams.

All 12 in-person public hearings will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. to start the sign-in process. Anyone who would like to be guaranteed an opportunity speak during the hearings will need to be present to sign in by 6 p.m.

Events will start shortly after 6 p.m. with welcome remarks and a reminder about procedures.

The amount of time for each person to speak will be determined by dividing the two hours by the number of people who sign in to participate.

A red light will indicate when each speaker has reached the time limit and will be asked to conclude his or her remarks before announcing the next speaker.

Those who attend will be given an informational brochure with reminders of how the redistricting process works according to the state Constitution, as well as information about how to provide suggestions throughout the process.

Hearings are scheduled for the following dates and locations, and are subject to change:

July 27: Putnam County Judicial Building, The Courtroom, Room 202

12093 Winfield Road Winfield, WV 25213

July 29: Chief Logan Lodge Hotel Conference Center

1000 Conference Center Drive, Logan, WV 25601

Aug. 3: Tamarack, Gov. Hulett C. Smith Theater

1 Tamarack Park, Beckley, WV 25801

Aug. 4: Summersville Arena & Conference Center

3 Armory Way, Summersville, WV 26651

Aug. 10: Stonewall Resort State Park, Birch Room

149 State Park Trail, Roanoke, WV 26447

Aug. 12: Monongalia County Extension Services & 4H Center at Mylan Park

270 Mylan Park Lane, Morgantown, WV 26501

Aug. 17: Martinsburg Sheriff’s Office Meeting Room

510 S Raleigh St, Martinsburg, WV 25401

Aug. 18: Keyser VFD Station 2

1550 Cornell St Keyser WV 26726

Aug. 24: Wheeling Independence Hall

1528 Market St, Wheeling, WV 26003

Aug. 26: Cabell County Courthouse, Courtroom #1 Judge Paul Farrell’s courtroom

750 5th Ave, Huntington, WV 25701

Sept. 9: The Culture Center, Building 9, Capitol Complex

1900 Kanawha Blvd. E., Charleston, WV 25305

Sept. 16: Judge Donald F. Black Courthouse Annex

317 Market St, Parkersburg, WV 26101

Dates for three virtual public hearings will be announced at a later date. Once the initial plans are completed by the Joint Committee on Redistricting, the House and Senate will generate the necessary reports and maps to draft redistricting bills.

“They’re about giving people an opportunity to come out and meet face-to-face with our redistricting committee members and get their input,” Hanshaw said.

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