Politics

This Week in Statehouse Action: Happy Bidenversary! edition

Rearranging Furniture: In case you’re wondering where the redistricting process stands in your state, the amazing folks at Daily Kos Elections have a super handy, daily-updated redistricting tracker that you should totally bookmark (… or just leave it open in a tab forever, if you’re like me, which you definitely shouldn’t be, because my browser tab situation is best described as “unhealthy”).

In Florida, trying-to-be-more-Trump-than-Trump Gov. Ron DeSantis cannonballed himself into that state’s redistricting process (which, like in most states, is the responsibility of the legislature) by submitting a super aggro congressional map to lawmakers, who had already drawn their own.

In fact, the legislatively-drawn maps actually had bipartisan buy-in (Republicans firmly control both chambers) and, if approved by DeSantis, would create 16 GOP seats and 12 Dem seats (pretty close to the current 16-11 split).

But DeSantis’ map is designed to create an 18-10 split—to say nothing of the fact that it would also dramatically dilute and diminish Black voting strength.

With redistricting’s outsized influence on the balance of power in the U.S. House after 2022, DeSantis is only messing with congressional maps at the moment.

A state Senate (16 D/24 R) map is also moving through the legislature, and it’s mostly status quo-ish.

… which is not good! Remember, when anyone says that this round of redistricting wasn’t that bad for Democrats, that person is undermining their own analysis by failing to take into account that existing maps—both congressional and legislative—are (in most states) GOP gerrymanders.

Maintaining that isn’t fair representation. Rather, it’s another decade of silencing voters by shunting them into districts designed to serve the interests of Republican lawmakers—not the interests of the people actually living in those districts.

In Arizona, the Independent Redistricting Commission (IRC) is (again) devolving into DRAMA.

The IRC was supposed to have its final meeting this week, at which it was slated to give final approval to both congressional and legislative maps.

Things didn’t quite work out that way, though.

At Tuesday’s “final” meeting, commissioners unexpectedly changed their votes, accused one another of harboring improper motives, and even disappeared from the proceedings altogether.

The groundwork for the debacle was laid in December, when all five members of the panel voted in favor of a new congressional map, opening a period of review for local election officials to propose minor administrative adjustments to the lines. Tuesday’s meeting was ostensibly for the purpose of certifying those tweaks, but one Democratic commissioner, Shereen Lerner, announced that she’d “made an error” in backing the congressional map.

That reversal infuriated Republican commissioners as well as the commission’s independent (… somewhat debatable tbh) chair, Erika Neuberg, who accused, “Someone was directing you then and someone is directing you now.”

Lerner rejected that allegation and in turn accused GOP commissioner David Mehl of acting to aid Republican legislators, which would violate a constitutional prohibition on taking into account where incumbents live. Obviously, Mehl denied this.

Democrats in Arizona were pretty unhappy with the December vote approving the new congressional map, which could shift Dems’ 5-4 edge in the state’s House delegation into a 6-3 advantage for the GOP. This probably has something to do with Lerner and the other Democrat on the board, Derrick Watchman, voting against that map on this week, despite supporting mostly the same district boundaries just a few weeks ago. But with the support of “independent” IRC chair Neuberg and the commission’s two Republicans, the map passed on a 3-2 vote.

At this point the IRC had been meeting and squabbling for about five hours, so they took a recess before reconvening to consider the state’s new legislative map.

But Neuberg was nowhere to be found for the reconvened meeting, and the panel had to adjourn without voting on that plan.

Which meant the commission couldn’t certify both maps and transmit them to Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, the step that would make the new districts official.

No word yet on when the panel will meet again to continue the fun. 




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