Maryland lawmakers scramble to create new congressional map – CBS Baltimore

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) – Maryland lawmakers scrambled to pass a new congressional map on Tuesday to comply with a court order after a judge annulled the first map drawn by Democrats in the redistricting cycle. this area last weekend.

The Maryland Senate quickly moved on with a new plan with more abridged districts for the state’s eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. A final Senate vote is expected soon to send the bill introduced Monday night to the Maryland House, which planned to pass the measure quickly to comply with Wednesday’s deadline set by the judge. out for a new plan.

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Judge Lynne Battaglia of Anne Arundel County Court released the map on Friday, calling it a “product of extreme partisan betrayal”.

Under his order, Battaglia said the map violated the state’s constitutional requirement that legislative districts include contiguous territory and be compact in form, taking into account natural boundaries and major subdivisions. treat. It also violates the state’s constitution free elections, free speech and equal protection provisions, she said.

Legislative leaders say the ruling has become a new standard for the state’s congressional map. While those standards have been applied to the boundaries of state legislative districts for the 188 seats in the General Assembly in the past, they have not been previously applied to congressional maps, they said.

Senate President Bill Ferguson and House Speaker Adrienne Jones said in a statement Monday that the new map is contingent on losing an appeal of the judge’s ruling.

The new map was drawn up by staff members at the Maryland Department of Legislative Services over the weekend in compliance with a judge’s order.

Sen. Melony Griffith, a Democrat of Prince George County, said presiding officers requested the new map in the legislation based on the court ruling and after consulting with attorney general.

“Drafting is based on guidance given by the court, which wishes to keep people, as much as possible, with their current counties or agencies, mindful of their wishes and requests. me to comply with the Voting Rights Act, to maintain compactness, avoid packing, and to consider Maryland’s unique geography,” said Griffith.

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In a map that has long been criticized for its vast districts designed to benefit Democrats, Democrats now hold a 7-1 advantage in the state’s House of Representatives seats over the GOP. That’s a situation where Democrats outnumber Republican voters 2-1.

Liliana Norkaitis, a high school student in Harford County, was one of three to testify against the new map at a hearing on the bill Tuesday morning, after a less than 12-hour registration period, from 8 :30 p.m. Monday to 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.

“While I haven’t completed the AP stats for this year, I don’t need to be a certified statistician to know that federal representation is overblown to be a Democratic majority. ,” said Norkaitis. “I am asking for a map that reflects the demographics of our state.”

Critics say the plan, approved in a special session in December, has the potential to give Democrats an 8-0 victory by jeopardizing the state’s only Republican congressman, the Representative. Andy Harris.

The original map added Democrats to Harris County by extending the boundary to include the East Coast westward across the Chesapeake Bay and accommodate more Democratic voters in Anne Arundel County. The revised map approved Tuesday will remove that change, restoring the GOP power there.

Overall, the new map makes the districts more compact. The 6th Congressional District in western Maryland, held by a Republican before it was redrawn about a decade ago, will have all of Frederick County in the county.

Still, Republican lawmakers say the map essentially preserves the unfairness of the boundaries that have been in effect over the past decade.

Sen. Michael Hough, a Frederick County Republican, said the map is “closer to the map I voted against 10 years ago, which was the 7-1 gerrymander map.”

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Hough said: “This map is more beautiful, but it is like lipstick on a pig. Maryland lawmakers scramble to create new congressional map – CBS Baltimore

Jake Nichol

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