State of the States – Nov’21
The Latest with Redistricting
Redistricting has been the primary focus of recent special sessions due to delays in the 2020 Census. With the 2022 midterms fast approaching, the pressure is on for legislators to finalize their congressional maps.
States that have accomplished this task include Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, and West Virginia. Nationally, Democrats have gained seven seats, Republicans have gained one, and five competitive seats have dropped. Several other states appear close to finalizing their congressional maps.
Here’s the latest redistricting news as we head into November and beyond:
The Joint Committee on Redistricting released draft maps on Monday, October 25, and had a meeting on Thursday, October 28 for a special session to debate those maps.
On October 29, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission gave preliminary approval for four draft congressional and legislative district maps. The commission will submit the maps for a 30-day public review before it gives final approval.
State Democrats have proposed legislation that would eliminate a public record exception for redistricting plans to make draft plans and associated documents available to the public.
The state’s House and Senate have approved a new congressional map on October 29, which is headed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker for his signature. The map will add one Democratic seat and subtract two Republican seats while creating a new majority-Latino district, the 3rd.
On October 4, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a bill (HB 1581) into law to confirm the state’s new redistricting maps. Despite criticism that it dilutes minority influence, the new maps are expected to allow Republicans to maintain its 7-2 seat majority.
On September 29, the state legislature voted to approve the new district maps. That same day, Gov. Janet Mills signed legislation establishing Maine’s new maps, which will shift the state capital, Augusta, into the 2nd District.
Four draft redistricting maps are currently open for public consideration to help the Michigan Citizens Independent Redistricting Commission decide on a finalist. On November 5, the commission is set to vote on final maps; there will then be a final round of public scrutiny before the commission is expected to adopt the final map on December 30.
On September 30, the state legislature approved the new redistricting plan and Gov. Pete Ricketts signed the bills into law. There are some significant changes to the 27th District in Lincon, which caused some upheaval, but it keeps all of Douglas County in the 2nd District.
The redistricting committee in the state Senate approved a new congressional map on November 1. Opponents charge that the map represents partisan gerrymandering for Republicans.
On October 26, the state House speaker announced that the Ohio Redistricting Commission will miss its October 31 deadline to enact a new congressional map. Since the commission didn’t meet the deadline, the legislature has until November 30 to pass a new map, but the map would expire after the 2024 election.
Gov. Kate Brown signed Oregon’s redistricting bills on September 27, making it the first state with a new congressional map after the 2020 Census. The new map is expected to create four Democratic-leaning seats, one Republican-leaning seat, and one additional competitive seat, which is the first time in forty years that the state is gaining a congressional seat.
On October 25, Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law a new congressional map that’s expected to strengthen the GOP’s majority. A federal lawsuit has been filed to overturn the new map stemming from claims of voting rights infringement.
The bipartisan Virginia Redistricting Commission couldn’t find consensus at its meeting on October 18 to set standards for drawing congressional maps. The commission voted unanimously to adjourn permanently, with the caveat that co-chairs could call it back into session if commissioners can develop a compromise map on their own.
Gov. Jim Justice signed the state’s new congressional map into law on October 22, which divides the state into northern and southern districts. West Virginia went from three congressional districts to two because of population loss in the 2020 Census.
State of the States Summary
Some states are further along in finalizing redistricting plans than others and debate will slow down progress for states with hotly contested maps. Even states with approved and signed congressional maps, such as Texas and North Carolina, are facing claims of voting rights infringement and gerrymandering. As we head closer to 2022, redistricting will continue to dominate legislative news.
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