Washington earns 10th congressional seat

Census officials announced Tuesday that Washington state's population has grown rapidly enough in the past decade to warrant a new 10th congressional seat.

The state population grew by 14.1 percent since the 2000 census, to 6,724,540 million people. The population growth in the west also was very strong, up 13.8 percent. The U.S. average was 9.7 percent, to 308.7 million people.

According to a Secretary of State press release, the new seat will likely be in the Puget Sound area when redistricting occurs. All of the districts will be changed significantly, particularly in Western Washington.

The actual work of divvying up the state in equal-sized congressional districts and legislative districts will be the task of a bipartisan citizen commission. Four voting members – two Republicans and two Democrats – will be appointed by the legislative caucus leaders, and the four will choose a fifth, nonvoting, person to be chairman. The panel will have all of 2011 to develop and finalize the maps, and three of the four voting members must vote for the final product. The Legislature has virtually no role and the governor cannot sign or veto the maps.

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