Redistricting Roundup: Another state sees court-drawn maps implemented
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Edited by Geoff Pallay
|Other states featured in this week's Roundup|
During the 2011 legislative session, Minnesota lawmakers failed to establish new congressional and legislative districts. The Republican-controlled legislature managed to pass maps, but these were vetoed by Democratic governor Mark Dayton. And so Minnesotans waited for court maps to be released, dictating the next 10 years of district lines.
On Tuesday, February 21, the judicial panel in charge of drawing Minnesota's new legislative and congressional districts completed its work. In total, the legislative maps pair a staggering 46 incumbents. In the House, the plan pairs 30 incumbents or 1 in 5 state representatives -- this leaves 15 open House seats. In the Senate, the plan pairs 16 incumbents or nearly 1 in 4 state senators -- this leaves 8 open Senate seats.
The congressional districts show fewer significant changes. Most notably, the plan moved conservative and former presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) into District 4 with Rep. Betty McCollum (D). However, Bachmann has already announced that she will again run in the 6th District. No other incumbents were displaced. However, partisan control in both Democratic District 4 and Republican District 2 has been somewhat weakened.
- Interactive versions of the new maps can be found here.
- The court order establishing the new maps can be found here.
- A breakdown of the pairings and open seats can be found here.
Oral arguments in the Florida Supreme Court's review of the state's new legislative districts have been scheduled for February 29th. Counsel for the state will have 90 minutes to make arguments in favor of the House and Senate maps. So far the court has denied opponents the opportunity to file alternative maps and requested the addresses of incumbent lawmakers. Florida law requires the court to review state redistricting maps but not congressional maps.
The Kentucky Supreme Court heard arguments today in the appeal of a County Circuit judge's ruling that overturned the state's new legislative districts. Since county precinct maps are based on the state maps, counties may be forced to revise their plans if the decision is upheld.
Gov. Martin O'Malley's (D) plan for new legislative districts became law today after the House and Senate declined to vote on it. Under state law, the governor submits a plan to the Assembly, who can then either adopt it or an alternative plan if they so chose. If they do not act on the plan at all it becomes law after 45 days. At least eight alternative plans were put forth in the House, but committee leaders decided against giving any of them a hearing. The plan creates two additional African-American majority districts and a new Hispanic majority district.
The fight is not yet over, however. The state Republican party and the Fannie Lou Hamer political action group said they intend to file a lawsuit against the plan, alleging it violates the Voting Rights Act as well as the state Constitution.
|Quote of the Week|
"It's just coarse, base politics and it's true on all of their fronts. It's just Albany Capitol theater and, frankly, it's something I don't want to engage in,"
The bi-partisan panel tasked with redrawing Missouri's Senate districts approved a new plan yesterday, redrawing the 34-district map. The plan now faces a 15-day public comment period before the plan can be officially approved by the panel. Backlash over the plan was swift. Senate Republicans denounced the plan and blocked an extension to the candidate filing period, complicating matters for potential candidates. Most notablely, the plan weakens Republican districts around St. Louis and pairs incumbent Senators Jane Cunningham (R) and Brian Nieves (R).
The Montana Districting and Apportionment Commission met last week to take a first look at the proposed legislative maps. The five-member commission is composed of two Democratic and two Republican appointees, as well as one member chosen by the State Supreme Court. The commission will now take the drafts to gather public input across the state. The maps won't go into effect until the 2014 elections. This fall's races will be conducted using the maps drawn after the 2000 Census. This is the standard timeline used in Montana. In the last redistricting cycle, the commission was controlled by Democrats, 3-2. Republicans contend that that map was drawn with a partisan slant in favor of Democrats.
Republican leaders in the House are standing together in an attempt to quash dissension in their party regarding the new map. The House delegation from Manchester said they oppose the plan as they believe it could cost the city two representatives. To that end, they agreed to sustain a veto by Gov. John Lynch (D) that they believe will occur. In response, a five-page letter blasting critics of the plan and signed by over 40 Republican House members was sent out to all members of the chamber. The House previously passed the bill by a vote of 205-68, but it must now pass the Senate, who is not expected to vote on it until next month.
On the congressional side, U.S. Reps. Frank Guinta (R) and Charlie Bass (R) must have their districts balanced--their two districts are about 200-300 individuals apart. That has reportedly led to a long internal party fight behind-the-scenes. Republican leaders and Guinta are said to want minimal changes, while Bass is seeking to add a number of Republican towns to his district, including Merrimack, Hampstead and Plaistow.
|Total States with Lawsuits filed:||35 See full list here|
|Total States where courts have altered/changed the final map: 13|
|Maps submitted for vote: 130 out of 142 (91.5%)**||No votes on initial maps in the following: AL (2), KS (1), ME (2), MT (2), NH (2), NY (3)|
|States that have completed Congressional Maps||40/43 (Maps unfinished: KS, NH, NY)|
|States that have completed State Legislative Maps||40/50 (Maps unfinished: AL, FL, KS, ME, MS, MT, NH, NY, VT, WY)|
|**With 50 states, there are 142 possible maps. 50 State Senate, 49 State House (No House in Nebraska), and 43 Congressional (7 states have 1 seat)|
After the state Supreme Court rejected initial state House plans drawn by retired judge James Hall, two new verisons have appeared this week. Hall has altered the map to comply with the high court's directives. One proposal would pair current House speaker Ben Lujan Sr. with fellow Democrat Nick Salazar (Lujan is not running for re-election). The other proposal would pair Salazar with Thomas Garcia. The proposals can be seen here and here.
This week the three-judge panel appointed in the case of Favors v. Cuomo rejected calls from legislative leaders seeking to dismiss the case and instead appointed U.S. Magistrate Judge Roanne Mann as special master. The panel ordered all parties to appear before them and Mann on Monday. Mann will then prepare a report and make recommendations to the panel. The case was brought last November by a group of civic leaders who asked for a special master to take over redistricting as the legislature showed itself incapable of the job.
Meanwhile, aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said that, despite comments by Cuomo last Friday, he is still prepared to veto the new legislative districts. The governor had said he would consider withholding the veto if three steps are taken - redraw the lines in a fairer manner than those in the first draft, work to pass a constitutional amendment that would put an independent system in place for the next redistricting cycle, and rework the current redistricting law in case the amendment fails. On Wednesday, 22 Senate Democrats signed a letter to Cuomo, urging him to veto the plan and ensuring him that they would be able to block a potential veto override.
On the congressional map front, Assemblyman John McEneny (D), who serves as co-chair of the Legislative Task Force on Demographic Research and Reapportionment, said on Monday that Assembly Democrats and Senate Republicans had both drawn up maps but had not yet met to compare them. The last two rounds of redistricting in 1992 and 2002 saw the Assembly and Senate pass separate plans, leading to court involvement.
|This Week's Redistricting Highlight|
The Ohio Supreme Court has decided to hear the Democratic lawsuits over the new legislative redistricting maps. However, due to the party's delay in filing the challenge, the court has ruled that the new maps will stand for the 2012 election and revisions to the maps will apply in starting in 2014.
The Legislative Reapportionment Commission was expected to issue revised maps this week, and, while it met on Wednesday, it did not release any maps or hold a vote. The next meeting is scheduled for February 28. The commission was forced to get back to work following the state Supreme Court's decision to throw out the maps in January. The court ordered this year's elections to take place in the districts drawn following the 2000 census, but some had still hoped there would be time to put new maps in place prior to the April 24 primary.
Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R) initially said the legislature might consider moving the primary back, but this week said he expects them to be held on schedule. Without new districts, Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R) has been reluctant to call special elections for six vacant seats in the chamber. Residents of those districts called on the court to force Smith to schedule them but Smith says he can't act until the Commission passes a new plan and the court approves it. Smith and Secretary of State Carol Aichele (R) have asked that the lawsuit be dismissed.
A federal trial seeking to determine the constitutionality of new legislative and congressional districts was scheduled to begin on Tuesday, but the three-judge panel hearing the case said redistricting was better left to Wisconsin lawmakers than the court. To that end they asked attorneys in the case to meet with legislators and ask them to consider altering the maps. Republicans said they would be willing to do so but that the law would not allow them. The court rejected this argument and asked them to reconsider a second time, but again they declined.
With their refusal, the court began the trial on Thursday. If they do find problems with the map, it is unclear if the court will chose to redraw them or if they will order lawmakers to do so. The plaintiffs argue that the maps violate the United States Constitution and Federal Voting Rights Act by diluting Latino voting power and making some 300,000 citizens wait six years between voting in state Senate elections--rather than the normal four.
Last Friday the Wyoming House of Representatives passed a legislative redistricting bill for the state. Following a modification last week to prevent pairing incumbents Sen. Curt Meier and Wayne Johnson, the bill is expected to pass the Senate. The state saw marked growth over the past decade, but this growth left behind many of state's counties, especially those along its eastern border. The plan was approved 49-9. Although the chamber is split 50-10 in favor of the GOP. Seven of the nine votes came from Republicans.