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Census could reshape Congress

January 9, 2010
The Daily Mining Gazette

In his recent visit to the Copper Country, U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Menominee) spoke about the importance of the upcoming 2010 U.S. census.

Many programs are based on population, said Stupak. The Upper Peninsula had 320,000 people in the 2000 census and fewer people this time around, say 270,000, would mean less money, less programs flowing above the bridge.

"So, fill out your census form when it comes," said Stupak. "Don't just throw it away."

We've asked snowbirds again to make sure they claim Michigan as their home when it comes time to fill out their forms.

But there are other reasons besides federal funding to fill out your census form.

According to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, Minnesotans have extra incentive to be counted by the decennial census that will begin in March, as the retention of the state's current complement of eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives is on the line.

State demographer Tom Gillaspy has been warning for months that the next census could result in the loss of one congressional seat in Minnesota. In fact, he confessed last week that, until the recession hit, he was almost resigned to the probability that Minnesotans would be allowed to elect only seven U.S. House members from newly drawn districts in 2012.

But the economic calamity that hit a number of the nation's previously fast-growing states - Arizona, Florida and Nevada among them - puts Minnesota's comparatively modest 7 percent estimated population gain in the decade that just ended in more favorable light. The growth of boom states is believed to have slowed considerably. Gillaspy now considers Minnesota ''on the cusp'' of losing a congressional seat. Four states - Minnesota, Missouri, Texas and California - appear to be competing for three seats.

In that contest, Minnesota traditionally has had one big advantage - the cooperation of its civic-minded citizens.

While Michigan doesn't look to be in line to lose a Congressional seat, population shifts within the state away from the U.P., could add to the geographic size of Stupak's district that already includes 15 counties below the bridge, besides the entire U.P.

Another good reason to complete the form when it arrives is that doing so is required by law. In fact, it's one of the few duties of citizenship that is backed by a statutory requirement. That's because the founders of this republic considered fair, adequate, accurate representation crucial to its success. They had good reason to think so: They had just fought a war of independence from Britain over insufficient representation in Parliament.



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