Senate Approves Second Passage Of Redistricting Amendment
The Senate approved this afternoon the second passage of a constitutional amendment that would create a new body to oversee the politically charged process of redistricting by 2022, with final approval resting on voters in 2014.
The amendment was approved by Senate lawmakers 43-20, with all of the no votes from Democratic lawmakers who said the legislation was tilted heavily in favor of Republicans.
Under the plan, each legislative conference appoints two members, with the eight members agreeing on the final two commission members. Seven members of the 10-member commission would have to advance the redistricting plan (that makes things a bit tricky should the Independent Democratic Conference still be around a decade from now).
“There is no such thing as independent,” said Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson. “If you are human you are going to have a bias one way or the other.”
Sen. Terry Gipson, a freshman Democrat who unseated Republican Stephen Saland, also blasted the measure.
“I have listened to many good public advocacy groups who believe this is the best we can do,” he said. “There are a number of senators who believe this is the best we can do. As a newly elected senator if this the best we can do, it is indeed a sad, sad day in New York.”
But not every Democrat voted against the proposal. Sen. Adriano Espaillat said voters deserved to have a chance to consider the amendment themselves.
“I think that the voters that I represent and the rest of the New Yorkers are smart enough to know whether we send them a good bill or a bad bill,” he said.
The vote ends the latest saga, for now, over the once-a-decade process that embroiled Albany last year.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo had vowed to veto any redistricting plan he deemed partisan. But Senate Republicans had counted on drawing their own districts in order to have maximum advantage in the fall’s legislative elections in an otherwise heavily Democratic state.
With a federal court about to take the process away from state lawmakers, a redistricting plan drawn by lawmakers was approved, along with a host of other Cuomo-backed bills that included a new pension tier, along with first passage of the amendment in a marathon legislative session that went into the wee hours of the morning.
Senate Democrats last year refused to vote on the redistricting plan and walked out the chamber, allowing Republicans to move forward with the redistricting plan and the rest of the legislation. Sen. Dan Squadron was the only Democrat left on the floor.
Republicans lost a numerical majority in the fall anyway, but joined a coalition government with the five breakaway Democrats to retain power.
Citizens Union, meanwhile, the good-government group that backed the amendment, couldn’t help but point out a number of the Democratic lawmakers who pledged to back the measure this year wound up voting no.
The amendment has split good-government organizations, however, and Common Cause has blasted the proposal for actually being worse the current, lawmaker-driven process.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on January 23, 2013 at 6:39 pm, and is filed under Redistricting. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|