A Trash Compact: The Democrats Redistricting Reform plan is Designed to Fail.

In a press release sent out today from the office of Senate President Mike Miller, the Democrats are spiking the football on doing nothing about the redistricting issue in Maryland:

Annapolis, MD – This morning, the House Rules & Executive Nominations Committee voted down the Governor’s Redistricting proposal, due to it being unconstitutional for the second year in a row. This afternoon, the Senate Education, Health, and & Environmental Affairs Committee passed legislation to create a Mid-Atlantic compact on Redistricting Reform. While gerrymandering is a national problem in need of a national solution, a federal solution has not presented itself and now appears to be even less likely as the House Republican Majority is built on the backs of gerrymandering at the state level across the country. Republican Congressional maps in Texas, North Carolina, Virginia and Florida have all been recently invalidated by federal courts for violating the Constitution.

The calls for non-partisan redistricting here in Maryland are in many cases, merely cloaked partisan attempts to provide Donald Trump and the House Republicans with more votes to support their attempts to repeal the ACA, eliminate funding for NIH, Chesapeake Bay cleanup and more.

However, if we are going to change the tone and tenor of a broken Congress, Maryland needs to be part of the solution, and lead the charge. That’s why we are going to pass The Mid-Atlantic Redistricting Compact. With the recent court decisions in North Carolina and Virginia, as well as President Obama’s efforts to end gerrymandering, the time in right to be the model for the rest of the country to create non-partisan redistricting without providing either party a clear partisan advantage.

Senate Bill 1023 will create a Mid-Atlantic Regional Compact with New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina. In Maryland creating an independent commission together with these other five states, the legislation removes the partisan wrangling over redistricting reform. Should all six states enter into a compact together, Maryland will have an independent commission for redistricting with a transparent and open process.

“The time is now to lead the Mid-Atlantic States towards a stronger Congress” said Speaker of the House Mike Busch. “We can improve our own map while at the same time providing millions across the Mid Atlantic with representation that more accurately reflects their values and priorities.

“Congressional Redistricting is a national problem that deserves a national solution,” stated Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, Jr. “However, when the Federal Government fails to lead, it is our responsibility to take the charge. As has happened so many times in the history of our country, Maryland will once again show the way, this time by encouraging our sister states in the Mid-Atlantic to join us in making Congressional Redistricting nonpartisan throughout the region, and country.”

So now that you’ve read the entire thing, you can see how blatant it is that the Democrats want to do nothing more than kick the can down the road on the issue of redistricting.

SB 1023 doesn’t actually create a “Mid-Atlantic Regional Compact” of the states as mentioned in the press release. Here’s what the bill actually says:

(A) THIS SUBTITLE APPLIES ONLY IF THE DEPARTMENT, AFTER 13 CONSULTATION WITH AND ON THE ADVICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, DETERMINES THAT EACH OF THE STATES OF NEW YORK, NEW JERSEY,  PENNSYLVANIA, VIRGINIA, AND NORTH CAROLINA IN THE MID–ATLANTIC REGION ADOPTS A DISTRICTING PLAN FOR CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS THAT IS SUBSTANTIALLY SIMILAR TO THE PROCESS OUTLINED UNDER THIS TITLE FOR REDISTRICTING THE MARYLAND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS.

The bill goes on further to say:

SECTION 2. AND BE IT FURTHER ENACTED, That this Act is contingent on the enactment of a nonpartisan districting process for representatives in the United States House of Representatives in the mid–Atlantic region in each of the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina. The Secretary of State shall monitor the enactment of districting legislation by the states of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina and notify the Department of Legislative Services within 5 days after the contingency is met. If the notice of the contingency being met is not received by the Department of Legislative Services on or before December 31, 2020, this Act shall be null and void without the necessity of further action by the General Assembly.

The Democrats haven’t created a “compact with any Mid-Atlantic states. They just passed legislation that creates a non-partisan commission to only deal with Congressional districts, and only if five other states adopt similar non-partisan redistricting commissions. The kicker is that at no point have New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, or North Carolina been consulted as to whether or not they wanted to participate in this “Mid-Atlantic Compact.” The entire Compact is a figment of the Democrats imagination. It’s a ruse designed to pretend that Democrats are doing something about redistricting when in fact they are doing absolutely nothing to fix the problem.

Anybody who reads the bill can see exactly how serious the Democrats are about reforming the redistricting process. Create a compact of states that nobody has talked to give Democrats cover to pass a redistricting reform plan. Except the reforms expire on December 31, 2020, unless those five states, the ones that no Democrats actually consulted, pass similar redistricting plans. The Democrats redistricting reform plan is designed to fail.

So why are the Democrats passing this bill? It’s because Governor Larry Hogan has made redistricting reform a centerpiece of his agenda. It’s because redistricting reform is wildly popular among Democratic, Republican, and independent voters statewide. And it’s because they want to continue to play politics with redistricting. It’s not a coincidence that the Democrats passed their Redistricting Compact bill the same day that the House Rules and Executive Nominations Committee shot down Governor Hogan’s comprehensive redistricting reform bill on a party-line vote. For the Democrats it’s not about trying to reform redistricting; it’s about pretending to reform redistricting in an effort to con the public into thinking that the General Assembly has done something to create meaningful reform when in reality they have done nothing at all.

The maddening thing about all of this is the fact that Maryland Democrats are pretending to be some sort of leaders on this issue. They want to pretend that they have achieved something meaningful. They’ve done nothing of the sort because they don’t believe in actually passing redistricting reform here in Maryland. They’re attempting to kick the can down the road by trying to rely on other states to force us into reform. That’s not leadership; that’s cowardice from a Democratic Party that knows it’s losing it’s grip on Maryland and is trying to retain power by any means necessary. If Miller and other Senate leaders truly believed in redistricting reform, they’d have passed a real reform bill that, one that applies only to Maryland, reforms both legislative and congressional redistricting, and one that permanently goes into effect this year. But they didn’t. Because political gamesmanship and trying to gain the system for a few more Democratic members of Congress means more to legislative Democrats than doing the right thing. And a time when Democratic leaders are about to testify under oath exactly how partisan Maryland redistricting truly is.

The Democrats Redistricting Compact is smoke and mirrors. A plan designed to return us to the status quo when the “Mid-Atlantic Compact” fails to achieve multi-state redistricting reform on January 1, 2021. And the Democrats deserve to be exposed for their duplicity and their covert tactics in an attempt to torpedo meaningful, permanent reform.






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