Welcome to the FELN Biweekly Redistricting Update. A handful of states are still finishing up redistricting plans. However, Kansas appears to be at a stalemate over new maps and no deal has been announced in Pennsylvania over their state House and Senate maps despite plans for a vote by the state redistricting commission next week.
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-The FELN Team
- The Alaska Supreme Court recently threw out redistricting maps drawn by the state’s redistricting board because it did not follow previous rulings by the court that the commission must first draw the plan focused on the state’s constitutional requirements and then make adjustments to comply with the federal Voting Rights Act. The board last Saturday voted to adopt a new plan for the state’s legislative districts and will meet this week to adopt the report and a Proclamation of Redistricting.
- Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill that gives the state redistricting committee $700,000 in supplemental appropriations, $400,000 less than the commission originally requested. The commission asked for the supplemental appropriation to continue operations as the Justice Department is still reviewing Arizona’s new maps.
- The Florida legislature approved a new Senate district map after a previous one was thrown out by the Florida Supreme Court. The map now goes to the court for final approval. Despite needing approval from the court, state officials sent the new map to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance in order to give time for review before candidate qualifying begins in June. Florida must have changes to their voting laws pre-cleared by the Justice Department because five counties fall under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
- Democrats recently brought a legal challenge against Florida’s new congressional map. Last week, they submitted an alternative congressional map to U.S. Circuit Court Judge Terry Lewis who is hearing the case. A hearing is scheduled the week of April 16
- Tensions between moderate and conservative Republicans are delaying redistricting in the state. The House has passed a redistricting map for their districts and a new congressional map. The Senate passed a different plan. Each chamber killed the other chamber’s plan. The Senate Reapportionment Committee passed a plan favored by moderate Republicans. Conservatives, the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, and Governor Brownback oppose the plan. If an agreement can’t be reached soon, the state will have to postpone the candidate filing deadline.
- The Michigan Supreme Court upheld a law passed by the legislature to turn over redistricting power to the Oakland County Commission from the original bipartisan reapportionment committee even though the law only impacts Oakland County. The county commission is now debating new county commission maps.
- Last week the Missouri Supreme Court upheld the new map for state house districts. The court has still yet to rule on legal challenges to the state’s congressional maps.
- Last week, the House and Senate overrode a veto by Governor John Lynch to the proposed House redistricting maps. The maps now go to the U.S. Department of Justice for preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Earlier last month, the governor signed the Senate redistricting map into law.
- Reps. Frank Guinta and Charlie Bass ended their stalemate over the drawing of the district line between their two congressional districts. The proposed map goes to the House for a vote.
- The Pennsylvania Legislative Reapportionment Commission announced it will meet on April 12 to consider adoption of a new preliminary map for state House and Senate districts. No deal on a map has been announced but a vote is expected when the commission meets. If the new maps are approved, a 30 day public comment period follows. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out the original map earlier this year because the map unnecessarily split municipalities and districts were not sufficiently compact.
- A three-judge federal panel ruled against a case brought by six voters and upheld new congressional and state house district maps. The voters have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court which has not said if it will take the case. The plaintiffs argued that the maps dilute voting strength of black voters and were improperly drawn.
- The state is likely to appeal a decision made last month by a three-judge federal panel that ruled lawmakers will have to redraw two Milwaukee Assembly districts because the map dilutes Latino voting power. The appeal won’t come until the panel decides on how the districts should be redrawn. The state and groups that filed the lawsuit submitted competing maps to the judges to consider.