The Joint House and Senate Redistricting Committee met on Thursday to vote on rules for the redistricting process that is being mandated by a three-judge panel. Here are the highlights from the meeting:
- Rules for using non-partisan criteria to draw legislative maps were rejected by the NCGOP members of the committee. Members have been urged to adopt the nonpartisan criteria of House Bill 200 that has wide spread support from members of both parties. HB200 would take redistricting power out of the hands of partisan lawmakers and instead have nonpartisan legislative staff draw voting districts completely blind to partisan politics.
- Rules were approved to protect political gerrymandering and incumbents. Democrats were opposed to both scenarios as the NC GOP wants to draw the new districts around incumbents (that were unconstitutionally elected) so that two incumbents won’t be in the same new district. This is ridiculous as we are aiming for more competition, not less. Darren Jackson, House Minority Leader, said it best: “We will protect the incumbents elected using unconstitutional maps.”
- While the pretense of not drawing lines based on race was proposed, that is also problematic in that excluding race also means race isn’t factored in, thus potentially still drawing maps that have a negative racial impact.
- Maps are targeted for completion by Aug 22/23 with a willingness to include public input. While it’s not clear if the public input comment was a head fake or a genuine desire to include the public in the process, we highly recommend you send in your feedback: http://www.ncleg.net/applications/rfc/Redistricting.aspx?id=23
NC Policy Watch also wrote up a great summary of all 9 rules that were proposed and voted on. Sadly, only two had bipartisan support, the other seven were approved along party lines. See the proposed Democratic criteria here, all of which was voted down. Chaz Beasley also provided a great play by play of the meeting and analysis of how the rules will and won’t work together, so be sure to check out his Twitter thread for more details as well.