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Redistrict plans cut down to 8

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A special legislative committee on Monday whittled down two dozen proposed congressional plans to just eight.

While no final decisions were made on how to reconfigure the state's three congressional districts, it appeared from preliminary votes that U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, the lone Democrat in Utah's congressional delegation, will get some big chunks of rural Utah.

One new plan presented Monday would give Matheson Salt Lake City, a couple of west-side cities and then include all of the state's western counties, running from Idaho to Arizona.

Another plan by Rep. Gerry Adair, R-Roy, co-chairman of the Legislative Redistricting Committee, would split Weber, Salt Lake and Utah counties and push Matheson into northeast and southeast Utah.

The Republican majority on the committee eliminated a plan put forward by Matheson himself that would have extended his current district, which is wholly in Salt Lake County, into west-side Salt Lake City neighborhoods of Rose Park and Glendale.

While Matheson said adding about 42,000 people on the city's west side provided, "minimal disruption" to current district lines, state Sen. Michael Waddoups, R-Taylorsville, committee co-chairman, said that minimal disruption is not one of the committee's principals, adding that Matheson's plan split too many cities in the county.

While several House Republicans voted to keep a plan put forward last week by Majority Leader Kevin Garn, R-Layton, that plan was removed from the list of considerations.

Members of the committee will brief their House and Senate caucuses on Wednesday. And the committee will meet again Thursday and Friday if necessary to finalize proposals for a Sept. 25 special legislative session.