Redistricting Roundup: South Carolina passes maps for US House
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Edited by Tyler Millhouse
On Tuesday, the South Carolina Legislature reached a compromise on the state's Congressional redistricting plan. After weeks of infighting, legislative Republicans in both chambers agreed on a plan for the US House District 7. Per the House plan, the district will center on the Pee Dee region, but will now include all of Georgetown county. The previous version of the plan split the county between Districts 6 and 7. The new District 7 is expected to favor Republicans.
Former holdouts on the House plan expressed reservations about supporting the bill. Sen. Tom Davis (R) argued that adopting the House plan was better than leaving the process to the courts. He noted, "I would opt for the devil I know rather than the devil I don't know." The redistricting bill passed 75-33 in the House and 24-16 in the Senate. The plan now moves to Gov. Nikki Haley (R).
|South Carolina Congressional Redistricting Plan|
|Quote of the Week|
"This is the partisan and politically gerrymandered map we expected...Shuler is running for re-election in 2012 and looks forward to continuing to fight for all the working families of WNC." - Andrew Whalen, Spokesman for Rep. Heath Shuler, reacts to changes to Shuler's North Carolina Congressional district. Despite the strong statement, rumors are circulating that Shuler is considering a job as University of Tennessee Athletic Director. Republican Jeff Hunt plans to challenge Shuler for the seat.
Judge Michael McConahy of Alaska's Fourth District Superior Court has decided to consolidate the three challenges to the state redistricting plan into a single case. The trial will be held this January in Fairbanks. The Redistricting Board has budgeted $1.4 million for defending the plan against lawsuits and pursuing Department of Justice approval of the plan under the Voting Rights Act.
Today the California Citizens Redistricting Commission tentatively approved plans for California's Congressional,legislative, and Board of Equalization districts. By law, the plan must have bi-partisan support, requiring three votes from each major party and three votes from the minor party/non-partisan members. The plans will be officially approved on August 15.
While details are still emerging, the new maps are expected to benefit state Democrats. State Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro said the maps "raised the stakes" for a two-thirds Democratic majority in the California State Legislature. In addition, the commission did not consider the residences of lawmaker, resulting in several lawmakers being drawn out of their districts. Married legislators Sen. Ted Gaines (R) and Rep. Beth Gaines (R) may be forced to move so that their home remains in both of their districts.
Members of the Idaho Redistricting Commission are disputing a 2009 state law governing redistricting. Democrats on the commission argue that the law is unconstitutional. The law mandates that legislative districts can only include multiple counties if those counties are linked by state highways. Democrats argue that this would needlessly split counties, but Republicans contend that following the law would result in a sound map that protects voters.
Republican Senate leader Christine Radogno and House Republican leader Tom Cross filed a federal lawsuit on July 21 seeking to invalidate the legislative maps drawn by Democrats. They allege the new maps unfairly target Republicans and violate the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African-Americans and Hispanics, as well as violating the state constitution's compactness requirement.
According to the suit, "The bizarre shapes of several districts … is in furtherance of a deliberate attempt to enhance Democrats' prospects for re-election and target Republicans to prevent their re-election," while many districts "slither across traditional lines in order to place multiple incumbent Republicans into one district."
|Total States with Lawsuits filed: 21|
|Next state deadline?|| South Carolina|
August 1, 2011
|Maps submitted for vote: 54 out of 142 (35.9%)**||AK (2), AL (1), AR (1), DE (2), IA (3), IL (3), IN (3), LA (3), MI (3), MN (3), MO (1), MS (2), NC (3), NE (2), NJ (2), NV (3), OK (3), OR (3), SC (3), TX (3), VA (3), WI (3)|
|States that have completed Congressional Maps||9 (AR, LA, IA, IN, NE, NC, OK, AL, IL, TX)|
|States that have completed State Legislative Maps||11 (AK, IL, IN, IA, LA, NE, NJ, NC, OK, OR, TX, VA)|
|**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)|
The case will be heard by a three-judge panel in U.S. District Court. If successful, either parts or the whole of the map could be redrawn.
On July 26, Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) released revised census figures accounting for non-resident students and military personnel. The revised population total is about 14,000 lower than the federal count of 2,583,118. The revision process is a remnant of the days when Kansas used the state agricultural census to conduct redistricting. District 66, home to Kansas State University, lost the most residents (10,000) in the revised count.
On July 27, the General Assembly gave final approval to the state's legislative and Congressional maps. The Congressional plan, a slightly modified version the Senate-approved plan, passed the House 68-51. The Senate concurred a few hours later, approving the plan 28-17. The bill was enacted as Session Law 2011-403.
The House of Representatives plan, an amended version of the House-approved plan, passed the Senate 38-19. The House concurred a few hours later, approving the plan 66-53. Concerning the State Senate maps, the House concurred 67-52 with the Senate version passed on July 25. The bill was enacted as Session Law 2011-404.
In response to the plans, opponents repeated charges of minority-packing and partisan gerrymandering. Gov. Beverly Perdue (D) does not have veto power over the maps. The maps will now face federal review under the Voting Rights Act.
|North Carolina Redistricting Plans|
|This Week's Redistricting Highlight|
This week, West Virginia Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D) suggested that keeping counties intact may not be possible without creating unconstitutional population deviations. He criticized the Mason County option as being insufficiently compact and neglecting community interest. Residents from Mason County expressed concern about being moved into the 3rd District, citing a lack of commonality between itself and the southern coalfields. In a draft map floating around the state, US Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (R) and David McKinley (R) would be draw into the same district. Republicans called the plan a “power grab.” Redistricting plans will be considered in a special session beginning August 1.
In order to prevent the displacement of rural legislators and the expansion of rural districts, some have proposed adding additional districts to the North Dakota Legislative Assembly. Each district in the state has two representatives and one senator. As such, North Dakota currently has 47 districts and 141 state legislators. After the 1980 census, North Dakota had 53 districts and 159 lawmakers. The state constitution allows for between 40 and 54 districts. However, plans of expanding the legislature may be hampered by the cost of new districts. Including compensation and other costs, each new district could cost more than $1.2 million over the next decade.
Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill on July 25 that allows the state to redistrict before local governments complete their maps. Under the previous state law, local governments redistricted before the state in order to prevent the splitting of municipal wards. Due to this unexpected change, many cities will have to start their process over. The bill also requires the state Supreme Court to create a three-judge panel to hear challenges to the new congressional and legislative maps. The governor has not signed the newly drawn maps into law.
Meanwhile, on July 27, a federal court in Milwaukee dismissed a citizen-initiated suit that asked the court to take over the redistricting process from the legislature. A second suit that was filed this week is still pending. It asks the court to throw out the newly approved maps, alleging they violate both the state and U.S. constitutions, as well as the federal Voting Rights Act, by dividing cities and minority communities.
- Mountain Xpress, "Turf war," July 19, 2011
- Politico, "Heath Shuler to face new opposition," July 26, 2011
- Daily Herald, "Illinois GOP challenges Democrats' political map," July 21, 2011
- Suburban Life, "Lawsuit filed to invalidate 2011 Legislative map," July 20, 2011
- Chicago Tribune, "Assembly GOP leaders sue over Democrats' redistricting map," July 21, 2011