Demographer on reapportionment: “It’s very close””

Minnesota State Demographer Tom Gillaspy told me today that he’s optimistic but not 100 percent certain that Minnesota will keep all eight congressional seats when the 2010 reapportionment study is released.

The U.S. Census Bureau releases information every ten years that prompts states reapportion the number of congressional seats in the U.S. House. The decision is based on population figures. Minnesota currently has eight seats and there has been some concern that Minnesota will lost a seat because the state’s population is growing at a slower rate than other states.

“It’s going to be very close,” Gillaspy said. “We’re a cusp state.”

Gillaspy said one thing that’s working in Minnesota’s favor is that state’s citizens had a higher response rate when it came to filling out the initial census request. He said that means the state is less likely to miss counting people in the state.

Gillaspy said he expects the Census Bureau to release the figures in the final week of 2010. He said the Census will release two numbers. The state’s population and the number of seats the state has through reapportionment.

One side note: There have been some concern from Democrats that a Republican controlled Legislature could try to jam through a redistricting bill if Governor Pawlenty is forced to hold office longer because of the extended contest between Democrat Mark Dayton and Republican Tom Emmer. Those fears are a bit exaggerated. Gillaspy says it’s unlikely that the Census will give the state the population information needed to help lawmakers draw the districts for Congress, the Legislature, etc. until late February.

Another side note: Republicans in the Minnesota Senate announced today that GOP Sen. Geoff Michel of Edina will be the lead on redistricting issues for their caucus.

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