Gov. Larry Hogan was none too pleased when the Maryland legislature didn’t advance his congressional redistricting reform proposal. But that doesn’t mean he preferred the Democrats’ alternative.
Today, he vetoed their bill, which both houses passed before the end of the session on April 10. With his signature, it would have led Maryland to turn over the weighty duty of redrawing legislative district boundaries from the governor’s office and General Assembly to an independent task force – but only if five other mid-Atlantic states adopted the same legislation.
Per the AP, Hogan today called the bill “phony” and a “smoke screen” after issuing his veto. He had hoped earlier this year the Democratic-controlled legislature would instead approve his bill, which would have created an independent commission within Maryland to redraw legislative borders every 10 years.
Unfortunately for him, it died in a Senate committee after a March hearing.
Maryland’s congressional district boundaries are a problem worth fixing. They’re so bad that a federal judge once wrote in a case involving a lawsuit about the state’s district lines that one congressional district is “reminiscent of a broken-winged pterodactyl, lying prostrate across the center of the State.”
While they were redrawn in 2010 to benefit Democrats – a process known as gerrymandering – lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pushed for years to create a better way to draw those lines. Of course, the Maryland Dems have pushed only to do so if other states do as well, with hopes for region-wide, bipartisan redistricting reform in both GOP- and Democratic-controlled states through the so-called Mid-Atlantic Regional Compact.
Under current law, the governor’s office will redraw General Assembly districts and the General Assembly will redraw congressional districts after the 2020 census. That could change next legislative session, but only if the state’s blue-controlled legislature and red-controlled governor’s office can get on the same page about the best plan for reform.
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