Tuesday, February 1, 2011

VA Senate Passes Bipartisan Redistricting Resolution

Redistricting has been a hot issue in Virginia for several years with Sen. Creigh Deeds being one of the biggest advocates for doing it in a fair manor. In fact, the various gubernatorial campaigns in the 2009 Democratic primary made a point of briefing myself and other bloggers about how they would advocate for bipartisan or nonpartisan redistricting.

Since the census results will be released soon and legislators will have to work on redrawing the lines, it is therefore worth noting that the Senate passed Joint Resolution 321 today. The resolution, which was patroned by Creigh Deeds, would establish a 13-member Virginia Redistricting Commission.

While it would be better if the lines were drawn by people who weren't currently serving in elected office, the bipartisan membership of this commission is promising as it will hopefully result in less partisanship as the Congressional and GA districts are redrawn. The selection process for who would be conducted in a bipartisan manner as appointments will be made by the president pro tempore of the Senate, the speaker of the House of Delegates, Senate and House minority leaders, and the chairmen of the Virginia Democratic and Republican Parties.

Despite this being a step in the right direction, it looks like there isn't much faith that the GOP controlled House of Delegates will pass the resolution. After all, the senate has pass similar legislation for four years. Each year it was killed by the Republicans and Gov. Bob McDonnell hasn't shown much interest in changing that trend.

“This is the fifth year we’ve had legislation of this sort on the floor of the Senate. This is not legislation to create an advisory commission, rather in the words of the Richmond Times Dispatch Editorial Board, this legislation establishes a mandate to enact,” Deeds said.

“If Governor McDonnell would have urged the Republican House of Delegates last year to support bipartisan redistricting, there would be no need for the General Assembly to revisit this issue. We implore Governor McDonnell to not drop the ball and help get this legislation passed this year,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Communications Director Keiana Page. “It is up to Governor McDonnell whether this passes or not.”

I definitely agree with Keiana here. Gov. McDonnell needs to step up to the plate here and encourage the House to pass the resolution. After all, a true leader would be interested in supporting a redistricting process that looks out for the best interests of all Virginians -- not just Republican incumbents.

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