Maryland’s state and federal district redesign process was reviewed in Montgomery County on Friday, as a legislative panel heard public comment on the process.
Another panel – this one formed by Gov. Larry Hogan – handed in their card proposals on Friday, setting the stage for a possible showdown next month.
Hogan, a Republican, announced on Friday that the Maryland General Assembly will meet in special session starting Dec.6 to go through the ten-year process of drawing new lines for the legislative districts of Congress and states.
The governor’s panel – called the Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission – has come up with a map that could bring noticeable changes to Montgomery County.
Map moves Takoma Park – the home of U.S. District 8 Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat – to the 8e Quartier and in the 4e District. (Under the U.S. Constitution, members of Congress must live in the state they represent, but not in the district.)
The menu also offers to redo the 6e District, now represented by Democrat David Trone, with limits that would make it more Republican.
The Democratic-dominated General Assembly will choose and approve new limits for 2022. It is unclear to what extent it will review the plans of Hogan’s Redistribution Commission and the state’s own Redistribution Commission.
âIn Maryland, it is the duty of the state legislature to draw and vote along the lines of Congress,â Trone wrote in an email. “Governor Hogan can submit a redistribution proposal if he wishes, but ultimately it is the prerogative of the state legislature to approve both federal and state district lines.”
On Friday evening, residents of Montgomery County had the opportunity to speak out as the legislative committee held a hearing in Rockville. Several said they were frustrated that they had not yet been able to see even a draft of the plan.
“We intend to publish the maps, but we are not there yet,” said Karl Aro, chairman of the Legislative Redistribution Advisory Committee.
That didn’t satisfy Montgomery County resident Jaqueline Coolidge, who said residents of the state “really need” to see a draft map before the next redistribution hearing on November 15.
âIt’s hard for most people to think about what they want from the redistribution process based on blank cards or old cards,â she said.
Some who spoke at a hearing at The Universities at Shady Grove conference center pushed for the map to retain multi-member state delegate districts, instead of turning them into single-member districts. .
The eight Montgomery County General Assembly districts are all on the run. They have a senator and three delegates who represent the entire district. Having single-member constituencies means dividing the constituency into three and having a delegate representing each zone.
Nicole Drew of Burtonsville said multi-member ridings give various communities better representation and political clout as they are represented on every committee that includes their delegates.
Redistribution – the process of changing the boundaries of the State General Assembly and Congress – takes place every 10 years. The US Census Bureau has determined that Maryland’s population increased by about 7 percent between 2010 and 2020, to reach about 6.18 million people.
The process is fraught with politics and controversy, especially when the ruling party controls the process and, therefore, the lines. Hogan backed down for years, saying the redistribution had to be done through a bipartisan review.
The Maryland Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by Hogan, proposed three maps – one for congressional districts, one for state Senate districts, and one for state delegate districts.
This commission ignored existing political maps and built new ones from scratch. The commission said it did not take into account the residence of an incumbent or candidate for office or the political affiliations of a resident of the district.
For example, the Hogan commission would move part of Montgomery County – including Takoma Park, White Oak, and Burtonsville – to the 4e District, a district based in Prince George now represented by Representative Anthony Brown, a Democrat.
“Politics was not on our radar screen,” said Walter Olson, co-chair of the Hogan commission.
He said the decision to move Takoma Park to the 4e District was based on the commission’s efforts to create a map that follows federal laws and conforms to Supreme Court redistribution decisions.
Another change in congressional representation from Montgomery County focused on western Maryland, which is now divided into two districts.
Hogan commission map would place all of West Maryland in 6 of Tronee District. It would also add the Montgomery County agricultural reserve area, including Damascus and Poolesville, thus adding a more rural area.
âThat way you have a better community of interest,â Olson said.
The commission handed the cards to Hogan on Friday. The governor forwarded them to the state legislature for an extraordinary session beginning December 6.
Hogan said the members of the commission – three Republicans, three Democrats and three independents – were selected to be independent of legislative influence, impartial and representative of the diverse and geographic, racial and gender makeup of the State.
Democrats in “blue” Maryland have been criticized for drawing political boundaries for political purposes, as have Republicans in “red” states.
In 2018, Hogan supported a legal challenge to how the 6e The district was drawn by lot by the General Assembly after the 2010 census.
Opponents of the way these boundaries were decided have accused the General Assembly of “gerrymandering” – drawing lines to include more residents of Montgomery County in order to make the district more democratic. After the redistribution, Republican Roscoe Bartlett lost on 6e District seat he had held for 20 years.
The case went to the United States Supreme Court, which referred it to the lower courts. After years of litigation, the case was dismissed.