LWV of Greeley-Weld County and the Latino Coalition of Weld County filed a state court lawsuit asserting the Weld County Commission violated state law and procedural due process after it disobeyed the requirements of HB 21-1047. The bill, signed into law in 2021, mandates public hearings, redistricting commissions, and redistricting criteria, including the preservation of communities of interest when redrawing county commissioner districts.
Several Colorado counties, including Weld County, elect county commissioners by district. The Weld County Board of County Commissioners (county commission) is comprised of five members, three elected by district and two elected at-large by the whole county.
In 2021, the Colorado legislature enacted HB 21-1047, which specified a process for redrawing county commission districts during redistricting. HB 21-1047 requires that counties which elect commissioners by district fulfill the following requirements, including:
Designating a county commissioner redistricting commission. Counties were also encouraged to create independent county commissioner district redistricting commissions.
Hold at least three hearings before approving a redistricting plan.
Seek feedback from the public on at least three proposed plans at the public hearings.
Have staff or an advisory committee explain how the plans were created, how the plans address public comments, and how the plans comply with the criteria prescribed in section HB 21-1047.
Maintain a website through which any county resident may submit proposed plans or written comments, or both, without attending a hearing of the commission. The website must be easily accessible and contain a record of the commission’s activities and proceedings.
The commission’s plan must preserve whole communities of interest and whole political subdivisions, such as cities and towns, as much as is reasonably possible. A city or town can be divided where, based on a preponderance of evidence in the record, a community of interest’s legislative issues are more essential to the fair and effective representation of residents of the district. When the commission divides a city or town, it shall minimize the number of divisions of that city or town.
The Weld County Board of Commissioners did not follow these requirements. Only two hearings were held, for which cursory notice to the public was provided. The county claimed it was exempt from HB 21-1047 requirements because of its status as a home rule county under Colorado law.
In response, on October 23, 2023, the League of Women Voters of Greeley-Weld County (LWV of Greeley-Weld County), the Latino Coalition of Weld County, and two individual plaintiffs filed a lawsuit in the District Court of Weld County, asserting the county had violated procedural due process and state law by failing to follow the processes prescribed by HB 21-1047.
The plaintiffs requested the court issue a declaratory judgment stating that (1) HB 21-1047 applied to Weld County; (2) the defendants had violated state law by passing its maps without following the process prescribed by HB 21-1047; and (3) the plaintiffs’ due process rights had been violated. The plaintiffs further requested the court forbid the use of the maps for any elections and order the county to draw new maps following the process prescribed by HB 21-1047.
LWV Greeley-Weld County and its co-plaintiffs are represented in this matter by Lewis Roca Rothgerber and Christie LLP.
Colorado legislature enacts HB 21-1047
The Colorado legislature passes HB 21-1047, mandating counties that elect their county commissioners by district follow processes for public input and redistricting criteria.
Weld County commissioners pass new maps
In a 4-0 vote with one commissioner abstaining, the Weld County Board of Commissioners passes new districts, without following the process prescribed by HB 21-1047.
LWV of Greeley-Weld County files lawsuit
LWV Greeley-Weld County, the Latino Coalition of Weld County, and two individual plaintiffs file a lawsuit requesting the court strike down the current districts and order the county commission to draw new maps in accordance with Colorado state law.
Plaintiffs file motion for summary judgment
LWV Greeley-Weld and co-plaintiffs file a motion for summary judgment, asking the court to issue a permanent injunction against the county commission districts. The motion argues Weld County's home rule status does not exempt it from HB 21-1047's requirements, and that by disregarding them, the commission violated the plaintiffs' due process rights.
Colorado Attorney General files amicus brief supporting the League
The Attorney General of Colorado files an amicus brief supporting the plaintiffs. The brief illustrates the struggles with redistricting that led to the passage of HB 21-1047 and argues home rule law does not grant counties the right to use their own redistricting process in contravention of state law.