Lawmakers Look Towards Redistricting Reform
With legislative redistricting behind them, many lawmakers say it’s time to reform the process for redrawing those boundaries. Some, like Richmond representative Rita Smart think a change in the state’s constitution is the answer. When asked about specific suggestions, Smart said last week more study is need to determine what needs to change. Smart has an ally in House Speaker Greg Stumbo.
“I think what needs to happen is we need to adopt Rita Smart’s constitutional amendment and change that archaic part of our constitution and change it for the Supreme Court as well,” said Stumbo.
However, House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover doesn’t believe a constitutional amendment is necessary. Instead, the Republican thinks a non-partisan, independent commission should redraw districts.
“Redistricting is brutal, it’s not fun, generally it’s not a good outcome because of all the politics and the personalities. We need to take that away from the general assembly, from the legislative branch and let this independent commission do it,” added Hoover.
While lawmakers from both parties are optimistic, they say their redistricting plan could still face a court challenge. Some lawmakers are upset their counties were divided up among several districts. As a result, Stumbo can’t rule out another lawsuit.
“Well anybody can sue, Can they win? I don’t think so, but they can sue,” added Stumbo.
The general assembly approved new boundaries for lawmaker districts under the watchful eye of the federal courts. The courts declared an earlier plan unconstitutional. House Minority Floor Leader Jeff Hoover says the same people who fought the first proposal could still challenge this latest plan.
“The three judge panel could look at it, if the plaintiffs in those lawsuits that are pending now amended their complaint to say not only do we have concerns about what is already in effect, but we’ve got concerns about the new redistricting map,” explained Hoover.
Formal legislative redistricting isn’t scheduled to happen again until after the 20-20 U-S Census. But changes can’t be ruled out.