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$628K sought for redistricting costs

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) -- The Minnesota court panel that settled the latest round of political redistricting is now being asked to cover more than $628,000 in legal bills for the Democrats, Republicans and citizens who joined the lawsuit.

The political parties submitted their legal costs -- mainly hundreds of hours of attorney fees for as much as $620 an hour -- last week. Copies of those submissions, obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, show that the DFL asked for $292,000 and the Republican Party is seeking $246,000. Another attorney representing a separate group of citizens submitted paperwork last month detailing $180,000 in outlays.

It's the fullest accounting yet of legal costs associated with the court's work to redraw political boundaries, a task that fell to a special redistricting panel of the Minnesota Supreme Court after elected Republicans and Democrats failed to agree on a new map.

There is legal precedent for the reimbursement because courts have covered attorney fees and other legal costs related to redistricting for political parties and other groups in past decades.

In 2002, the state's redistricting panel paid out $368,000 after parties to the lawsuit detailed more than $440,000 in legal costs. Back then, the panel capped the payouts at $100,000 per group plus up to $4,500 each in costs.