Welcome to the FELN Biweekly Redistricting Update. Kansas is still at a stalemate over new redistricting plans. Several states are facing lawsuits to their new maps. California lawmakers are considering legislation to make redistricting in future years more smooth.
The U.S. Department of Justice approved Arizona’s redrawn congressional maps last week.
U.S. District Judge Leon Holmes denied a motion to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the boundaries of a redrawn state senate district in eastern Arkansas. A hearing is scheduled for May 7.
The California legislature is considering legislation, with bipartisan support, which would make changes to the redistricting process in order for it to run smoother the next time the redistricting commission draws new maps. The legislation would require the state auditor’s office, not the secretary of state, to provide support functions until the commission is fully functional; allow more time to select commission members; make changes to the three-person panel that screens redistricting commission applicants and selects finalists; require maps be on public display by July 1 of the year the commission plans to vote on the plans; and prohibit lawmakers from making changes to the redistricting process in years ending in 9.
Local and state NAACP chapters in Connecticut filed a lawsuit challenging a redistricting plan passed last year. At issue is minority representation between the 22nd and 23rd senate districts in Trumbull and Bridgeport.
The Florida Supreme Court will hear arguments over the legislature’s second-attempt to redraw senate maps on Friday. If the map is ruled unconstitutional, the judges will redraw the maps themselves. The Florida Democratic Party and a coalition of civil rights groups responded on Monday with court filings opposing the maps.
A hearing was held on April 18 in Leon County Circuit Court over a challenge to the state’s new congressional maps. The Florida Democratic Party and a coalition of voting groups are urging the judge to reject the maps.
A state legislator and a handful of voters brought a lawsuit challenging the state’s new redistricting plan. They claim the plan violates the constitution's equal protection clause by excluding more than 108,000 military members, their families and university students when boundaries for state legislative districts were drawn. They also argue the plan doesn’t divide districts equally.
The legislature still has not yet come to agreement over redistricting plans. The state constitution requires legislators to draw new maps during regular session which ends on May 10.
A three-judge federal panel threw out a lawsuit brought by a coalition of civil rights groups challenging Michigan’s redistricting plans.
New redistricting plans have taken shape and will be released soon. Lawmakers will then have the opportunity to vote on the proposed maps. Once approved, they must be submitted to the U.S. Department of Justice for approval under Section V of the Voting Rights Act.
At a hearing on a challenge to the state’s redistricting process on April 18, a three-judge panel of the Federal District Court heard arguments on a motion to dismiss the case.
Last Friday, the New York Supreme Court threw out a separate lawsuit filed by Senate Democrats over adding a 63rd senate seat. Democrats are appealing to the state Court of Appeals.
An assemblyman wrote the U.S. Department of Justice urging them to deny preclearance of the new maps because it is in violation of Section V of the Voting Rights Act. The U.S. Department of Justice will rule if New York’s new maps are in compliance with the Voting Rights Act by April 27.
Last week, the Reapportionment Commission approved a new redistricting plan. A first attempt at redrawing the maps for legislative districts was rejected by the state Supreme Court last year. A hearing on the new plan is now set for May 2nd. If the new plan wins final approval, it won’t take effect until 2014.
There has been heated debate over redistricting plans over the past few months. However, the House Government Operations panel finally passed new maps on April 10. They were sent to the Senate for consideration.
Last week, a three-judge federal panel sided with a map that revised two Milwaukee legislative districts and threw out a plan proposed by Republicans concluding that it diluted the power of Latino voters. The Wisconsin Department of Justice is leaning towards appealing the decision.