Lawmakers Agree on Redistricting Commission, But Differ on Execution

Feb 5, 2019

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The process of drawing maps for House and Senate districts in Virginia has been a source of frustration — for voters and for members of the General Assembly. That process may be on the verge of dramatic change, although not without a knock-down-drag-out fight.

OK, so House and Senate districts are going to be drawn by a commission rather than being crafted behind closed doors by members of the General Assembly. That’s where lawmakers agree. Where they disagree is about who’s on the commission and how nonpartisan is can be.

Republican Delegate Mark Cole has a bipartisan plan rather than a nonpartisan one, a 12-member commission: four members chosen by the House, four by the Senate and four by the governor.

“I really don’t think there’s any way to take politics out of an inherently political process. I think the best you can hope for is a bipartisan solution.”

Delegate Mark Sickles is a Democrat from Fairfax County, and he says that plan is actually worse than the way things happen now.

“This give the Speaker of the House more power than he has now, and has the speaker appoint Republicans and Democrats onto the committee. So it really doubles down on the terrible partisanship we’ve seen in the last three redistricting cycles.”

The Senate has its own plan, one that doesn’t include the majority picking representatives from the minority. Those two plans seem to be headed for a conference committee, where lawmakers will craft a compromise behind closed doors.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.