Maryland’s Congressional and Legislative Redistricting — What’s the Purpose?

0
211

By Sam Prasad Jillella – Special to India This Week

ROCKVILLE, MD — As per the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution, Maryland is required to redraw its congressional and legislative district lines every 10 years following the census.

By Sam Prasad Jillella – Special to India This Week

ROCKVILLE, MD — As per the U.S. Constitution and the state constitution, Maryland is required to redraw its congressional and legislative district lines every 10 years following the census.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1964 in the Wesberry v. Sanders case that Article I, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution requires congressional districts to be as equal in population as practicable. The 14th Amendment and Article III, Section 4 of the Maryland Constitution requires legislative districts be of substantially equal population.

Under Public Law No. 94-171, the Census Bureau is required to provide each governor and majority and minority leaders of each house of the state legislature with 2010 Census population totals for small area geography, such as (counties, American Indian areas, school districts, cities, towns, county subdivisions, census tracts, block groups and blocks) no later than April 1, 2011.

Maryland's existing districts were adopted in 2002.

The redistricting process began with the Census count in spring of 2010. After public hearings, review and analysis of proposed plans, the revised districts will be adopted. Maryland has 8 congressional districts, and its legislative districts must be represented by 47 State Senators and 141 State House Delegates.

The new districts will be in place in time for the Congressional primary of 2012 and the State Legislative Election of 2014.

Maryland’s present demographics have changed since the 2000 Census.   At 9%, Maryland's overall growth is just below the national average. Within the state, white residents shrank by 128,000 while minorities, especially Hispanics, grew. Hispanics, in fact, doubled to 8% of the state. Whites fells from 62% to 55%. Minority growth among blacks and Asians occurred largely in the suburbs of Washington, DC. Specific counties also experienced individual growth rates, as high as 28% that dwarfed the state and national averages. Baltimore has shrunk.

The Maryland Department of Planning (MDP) is the repository of Reapportionment and Redistricting maps and data products. MDP is Maryland's designated State Agency coordinator for the Census Redistricting Data Program with the U.S. Bureau of the Census.

The Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee (GRAC)  includes: Chair, Jeanne D. Hitchcock, Esq., Secretary of Appointments; Thomas Mike Miller, Jr., Senate President; Michael E. Busch, Speaker of the House; James King, Former House Member; Richard Stewart, President and CEO, Montgomery Mechanical Services Incorporated.

Hitchcock served as Deputy Mayor to then Mayor Martin O'Malley, prior to joining the Governor’s office. While Deputy Mayor, she was instrumental in the redistricting process that, for the first time, created single member districts in Baltimore City. She also served as an Assistant Attorney General from 1980 to 1987

After accepting the unanimous recommendations of GRAC on December 16, 2011, the Governor received public comment on the recommendations during a public hearing on December 22, 2011. GRAC based its work on the current legislative district map, drawn by the Maryland Court of Appeals in 2002. The Governor was guided by that work product, State and federal Constitutional and legal provisions, and by public input.

On January 11, 2012, in accordance with Article III, Section 5 of the Constitution of Maryland, Governor Martin O’Malley presented to the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Delegates his proposed map setting forth the boundaries of the legislative districts for electing members of the Senate and the House of Delegates. 

As required by the Constitution, the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House introduced the Governor’s plan as a joint resolution to the General Assembly.

The Governor’s map enhances minority voting rights, pays exceptional attention to respecting natural and political boundaries, and results in districts that are compact, contiguous, and protects communities.

“The map submitted directly reflects the demographics of the State and the population trends that have occurred over the past decade,” said Governor O’Malley. “Equally important, the map reflects the extensive public comments that members of the committee and I heard from hundreds of Marylanders in public hearings across the State and in numerous written comments.”

The Governor’s map creates 12 districts that are majority African American — an increase from the 10 districts that the Court of Appeals drew in 2002 — and provides a much stronger voice for the African American community. And, for the first time in Maryland’s history, the map creates a single-member Hispanic district in Prince George’s County, District 47B, which is over 62% Hispanic.

The plan takes effect on the 45th day (Feb 24, 2012) of the legislative session unless the General Assembly enacts its own plan before the deadline.

Seminar on ‘Demographics and Redistricting,’ Jan. 18, 2012, Rockville, MD

Educating Maryland Voters about Demographic Changes and Redistricting: Seminar on ‘Demographics and Redistricting,’ Jan. 18, 2012, Rockville, MD — (Left to Right) Lily Qi, Vice Chair of Governor's Asian American Commission, Secretary Jeanne Hitchcock, Chair of Governor's Redistricting Advisory Committee, Karl Aro, Executive Director of Legislative Services in the Governor's office, Song Hutchins, Executive Director of Asian American Homeownership Counseling, Mumtaz Jahan, Member of Montgomery County Executive's Middle Eastern Advisory Group and Mona Ngam of the Montgomery County Muslim Council.


Courtesy: "INDIA THIS WEEK" – Washington D.C. based Newspaper

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here