Legislative apportionment–the process of dividing the state into districts for the election of state senators, state representatives, and U.S. congressional representatives–will be required with the completion of the 1980 decennial census. Since portions of the state constitution pertaining to the apportionment of the state legislature were declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964, there are no clearly identifiable standards or guidelines to be followed in the reapportionment process. In addition, the constitution places the reapportionment responsibility in an eight-member apportionment commission, which in two previous attempts failed to adopt a plan and the state supreme court was forced to assume this responsibility.
There are no constitutional or statutory provisions in Michigan for reapportioning U.S. congressional districts. While this is normally the responsibility of the state legislature, in 1972 the federal district court ordered the current plan into effect. The reapportionment of congressional districts is of major importance at this time since Michigan is expected to lose one of its 19 congressional seats after the 1980 census which is expected to show a slower population growth in Michigan relative to other states.
Any attempt to design a workable apportionment process in Michigan will need to address both the issue of who should be responsible for reapportionment and what standards should apply to the reapportionment process. A constitutional amendment would have to be put before the voters by the November 1980 general election if it is to affect this decade’s reapportionment process.