Virginia Republicans stun Democrats by passing new senate redistricing map

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January 22, 2013

Virginia

By Greg Janetka

RICHMOND, Virginia: In a stunning move, Republicans in the Virginia State Senate passed a new redistricting map yesterday on a 20-19 party-line vote. The measure, which Democrats tried to get referred to committee, did not go through the normal process and was passed in about 30 minutes. The new lines appear to draw more Republican-friendly districts, all but assuring them a future majority in the chamber.[1]

Redistricting following the 2010 census was anything but amiable. The state Senate initially approved a plan for new districts on April 7, 2011. At the time Democrats controlled the chamber by a 22-18 margin. That plan, which also passed on a party line vote, was vetoed by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell for a number of reasons, including the use of "partisan gerrymandering."[2] After a number of compromises by both sides, the governor signed a revised plan on April 29, 2011.[3]

Thus, with compromise met, onlookers, including the governor, were surprised to see an entirely revamped map passed by the senate. Set to take effect in 2015, the plan was added onto a bill intended to make "technical adjustments" to House districts. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) also criticized the move. With the senate tied 20-20, Bolling serves as the tie-breaking vote. He did not have that chance, however, as Republicans chose to act on the day that Democratic Sen. Henry L. Marsh was in Washington attending the inauguration of President Barack Obama.[4]

The bill now goes to the Republican-led Virginia House of Delegates, where it is expected to be easily passed.

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