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The Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Senators on Monday rejected an amendment to the redistricting bill that would have required elections for all 30 Senate seats this year.

Normally in an election year only 15 Senate seats are open, but this year's redrawing of legislative boundaries based on the 2000 Census has raised questions about fairness.

On Monday, the Senate changed the proposed amendment so that only Sen. Mark Harris, D-Green River, would be faced with an election in the middle of his four-year term.

The amendment was based on the percentage of new voters in a district. Harris' Senate District 14 has close to 60 percent new voters.

Some senators were concerned about the constitutionality of only having one senator run in the middle of his term when 12 of the other 14 senators who would not face elections also had changes made to their districts.

Monday was the first day the Senate as a whole considered the House redistricting plan. The Senate accepted changes to the bill made by the Senate Corporations Committee, which eliminated two of three amendments made by the House.

However, the Senate as a whole did not accept numbering changes the Senate committee suggested. The changes would have numbered each of the two House districts within each Senate district with the Senate district's number plus an A or B.

The Senate passed an amendment from Sen. Grant Larson, R-Jackson, which would change how the House and Senate districts were set up in Teton County.

Before the Larson amendment, the bill would have put Jackson in one House district and the rest of Teton County in another.

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Under Larson's amendment, Jackson would be split between two House districts. Half of Jackson would be included with most of rural Teton County and part of Fremont County, including Dubois. The other half of the town would be grouped with the rest of rural Teton County.

Larson said he introduced the amendment because Teton County officials have expressed concern about a city-county split if Jackson were its own district.

"This is not about going after any particular political party," said Larson. He was responding to criticism that his amendment was brought forward to stop the town from electing a Democrat.

The Senate rejected an amendment proposed by Sen. Delaine Roberts, R-Etna, who tried to change district boundaries to keep Lincoln and Sublette counties intact.

Larson said Roberts' amendment would have grouped different communities of interest and would also have made districts that were too large. One of the districts would have been 170 miles long from north to south.

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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