AUGUSTA (AP) – The state supreme court said Friday it would give interested parties through June 2 to comment on how new boundaries should be drawn for Maine’s two congressional districts and the districts of the state Senate.

Maine lawmakers approved remapping for the 151 districts of the state House of Representatives and for the districts of county commissioners, but failed to reach accord on the two other tasks.

In Friday’s preliminary procedural order, the law court set May 28 as the date of “a brief opportunity for oral public comment” on state Senate and congressional district plans.

Remapping is required every 10 years to reflect population changes measured in the most recent federal census.

Data from the 2000 census released in March 2001 showed that communities across southern Maine grew during the 1990s while population in the north dwindled.

Ten years ago in the wake of a partisan divide at the State House, the court did the state’s redistricting. But 10 years before that, lawmakers themselves reshaped district boundaries.

As outlined by Friday’s order, the law court intends to publish a tentative plan of reapportionment sometime after the close of the comment period and schedule another public hearing.

No multipart redistricting package gained bipartisan support within the 15-member apportionment commission that concluded its work in early April.

Subsequently, the Legislature took up various pieces separately in a departure from an all-or-nothing format.

In commission voting, neutral chairman Donald Zillman sided with the Democrats behind their congressional district proposal, which would move Waterville from the 1st into the 2nd Congressional District.

Zillman abstained from expressing a preference on competing state Senate plans, saying he found merit in both.

The Democratic state Senate plan more equally apportioned population among districts overall, while the Republican plan divided fewer smaller towns.


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