O'Neill calls for independent commission to draw political maps
State Sen.-elect Bill O'Neill on Tuesday said he will introduce a bill to establish an independent redistricting commission.
Currently, state legislators every 10 years decide how political boundaries should be redrawn to reflect population shifts.
"We need to rethink redistricting in New Mexico, and inject transparency and neutrality into the process," said O'Neill, D-Albuquerque.
He said 21 states already have an independent method to handle redistricting.
O'Neill, who will succeed retiring Sen. Dede Feldman, said he has been working with Common Cause, the League of Women Voters and other groups to devise a new plan for redistricting.
He moves to the Senate from the state House of Representatives, where he served for four years. During that time, redistricting plans were completed by the Legislature and, in many cases, by the courts because of lawsuits challenging changes.
O'Neill said his plan would save money in addition to improving fairness.
"I believe the price tag to the New Mexico taxpayer for our last go-round was nearly $8 million," he said.
Creating an independent commission to redraw political boundaries would be cheaper, he said.