The committee charged with a remap of the state legislative districts will meet in Helena Friday.
The bipartisan panel has already designed the new state House districts, and the process thus far has had mixed results for the Hi-Line. The city of Havre will be one district, meeting the requirements that districts be compact and contiguous. The districts covering the rural areas of the Hi-Line are oddly shaped districts that meander through hither and yon.
The Helena panel now has to pair two House districts together to form a Senate district.
One possible combination is to combine House District 30 — the city of Havre — with the behemoth district that stretches from Wild Horse in northwestern Hill County down U.S. Highway 2 to the west side of Glasgow — Canada to the north, a series of Indian reservations to the south. The district, on a map, looks something like a submarine. Several New England states could fit inside the borders of the district.
The odd thing is that this massive district is probably the best alignment for the Hi-Line.
The alternative is to hook up Havre with an oddly shaped district that stretches from northern Liberty County to Black Eagle in suburban Great Falls.
Havre has more of a sense of community with Wild Horse and Glasgow than suburban Great Falls.
That plan would create a Senate district that extends from Wild Horse to the North Dakota border.
The best interests of the Hi-Line probably won’t be the primary interest of the panel, but those of us whose main concern is this very special part of the state ought to unite between the somewhat crazy Wild Horse to Glasgow district as the least objectionable option.
The power players in Helena will be concerned with the partisan political results of the remap, but our concern is the political power we can squeak out of the plan for the Hi-Line.
Republicans were all giddy about the House district lines in north-central Montana, but from what we can figure, state Sen.-elect Greg Jergeson, D-Chinook, will have a leg up in the new proposed Senate district.
Politics aside, though, whoever wins the seat will have a tough job representing such a sprawling district while being the Hi-Line’s sole representative in the Senate.
This configuration will spread the Hi-Line’s already limited political power pretty thin. But it’s the best of the bad options we face.