- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 28, 2019

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Latest on the Montana Supreme Court’s appointment to the state redistricting commission (all times local):

2:30 p.m.

The Montana Supreme Court has appointed former state Commissioner of Higher Education Sheila Stearns as the chairwoman and tiebreaking vote of the commission that will redraw the legislative map after the 2020 census.

Stearns told The Associated Press Tuesday that she’s been willing to step into difficult public service roles through most of her career and she is looking forward to getting to know her fellow redistricting commissioners.

The high court’s selection came after a failed attempt by two justices to delay the appointment to allow time for public comment.

Stearns will join two Republicans and two Democrats who were previously appointed to the panel by legislative leaders.

The commission will redraw the 150 legislative districts and carve out a second congressional district if Montana gains a seat in the U.S. House.


11:50 a.m.

Montana Supreme Court justices are meeting about the appointment of the fifth and final member of the state’s redistricting commission.

The high court will meet Tuesday after the two Democratic and two Republican members couldn’t agree on a chairman for the panel that will redraw the state’s legislative map after the 2020 census.

That person will be the tiebreaking vote in partisan disputes.

The state’s 100 House and 50 Senate districts are re-drawn every decade to align with population numbers. If Montana gains a second U.S. House seat, the commission also will divide the state into two congressional districts.

The commission is expected to present its plan to the Legislature in 2023 to be in place for the 2024 elections.

The other commission members are Republicans Jeff Essmann and Dan Stusek, and Democrats Joe Lamson and Kendra Miller.

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