By Lindsey Collom
Pinal County has hired legal counsel to object to a new law expanding its Board of Supervisors from three to five members next year.
Two of three Pinal County supervisors voted Wednesday to retain attorney Bruce Adelson to prepare a formal objection against the law, House Bill 2101, for submittal to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The Justice Department is required to clear all enacted laws that could potentially conflict with the federal Voting Rights Act.
Supervisor Pete Rios and other opponents of HB 2101 say the law is "a piece of legislation that is full of retrogression."
The new law requires counties to be represented by five supervisors if the population totals at least 175,000 people - down from a 200,000 person threshold in the 2000 census. It also sets the terms for redistricting to align with existing community-college boundaries.
Passed by the state Legislature this year and signed into law by Gov. Jan. Brewer, it affects only Pinal County.
Rios said the community-college boundaries in no way reflect an equitable split of the county's population size, socio-economics and ethnic makeup, and the new law would put some protected voting groups at a disadvantage.