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Governor Larry Hogan Really Wants Redistricting Reform. He Wrote to Obama About It.

From The Washington Post

“The idea of a commission is broadly popular among state residents.”


The Washington Post
Josh Hicks
April 6, 2016

“Republican Gov. Larry Hogan is pulling out all the stops — including asking for President Obama’s help — in pressing Maryland’s Democratic-majority legislature to vote on his plan for redistricting reform before lawmakers adjourn for the year on Monday. …

“Hogan has proposed placing a referendum on the November ballot that would ask voters if they want a nonpartisan commission to redraw the state’s voting boundaries, which are widely considered to be among the nation’s most gerrymandered, or manipulated to give one party an advantage.

“In a state with an extremely popular Republican governor and a 2-to-1 ratio of registered Democrats to registered Republicans, all but one of the state’s eight congressional seats is currently held by a Democrat.

“The idea of a commission is broadly popular among state residents. But Democratic legislative leaders say they won’t consider making Maryland’s system more fair unless other states, whose maps favor Republicans, do the same.

“The House and Senate held committee hearings on Hogan’s proposal more than a month ago, without ever taking a vote on whether to advance the measure. …

“Last week, the governor sent a letter to the White House requesting assistance from Obama to spur the General Assembly to act on the matter.

“’There are only days left in the legislative session, and next year, we may not have as strong an advocate in the White House as you have been on this issue,’ he wrote. ‘With your intervention, I believe we could set things right in Maryland.’ …

“As of Tuesday, the White House had not responded to the letter. Obama has been a vocal advocate for national redistricting reform during his final year in office.

“’We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around,’ the president said in his annual State of the Union address in January. ‘Let a bipartisan group do it.’

“Six states already use nonpartisan redistricting committees to draw their voting maps.

“But legislative leaders have balked at the idea in Maryland, where Democrats hold large majorities in both the House and the Senate and the state Constitution gives the legislature and governor authority to create congressional and legislative districts every 10 years.

“Maryland House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel) and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert) have said they prefer to wait for Congress to enact national changes or for a regional agreement that involves Republican-controlled states. …

“When asked whether Hogan would consider a multi-state deal, which has been proposed by some Maryland lawmakers, aides to the governor have said the state should lead on the issue.

“’Marylanders don’t want to have to wait for action in some other state before they can get fair election districts at home,’ Hogan spokesman Matt Clark said.” …